Hammer toe is a deformity that can occur in any of the three middle toes in which the toe is bent down at the middle joint, causing pain or immobility of the affected toe.
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Hammer toe is caused by improperly fitting shoes such as high heels or shoes with a narrow toe, but also is an inherited condition. Over time, the pressure being exerted on the toe causes the muscles to contract to the point that they can no longer straighten the toe even when there is no shoe. Eventually, this leads to wear and tear within the joints of the toe, which results in a stiff deformity.
If addressed early, hammer toes are flexible and can be treated with simple solutions such as wearing roomier shoes or simple stretching exercises. If left untreated, the hammer toe can become fixed and require surgery. They become dangerous when any shoe wear causes enough rubbing to create a sore that can become infected. Surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis with a local anesthetic.
More information can be found at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Hammer Toe.
About Dr. Alexis Dixon
Dr. Alexis Dixon is an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist at DISC where she commonly diagnoses and treats arthritis of the foot and ankle, tendinitis and tears of the peroneal, Achilles, and posterior tibial tendons, flatfoot deformity, osteochondral lesions, plantar fasciitis, hallux valgus/bunions, hallux rigidus/arthritis of the great toe, deformities of the lesser toes, metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma, ankle sprains and turf toe, among all other injuries of the foot and ankle, including sports and degenerative injuries.