Hammer toe is a toe that is in a fixed (rigid) contracted position.
Among the causes of hammer toe are a long metatarsal or toe bone, poor foot posture, rheumatoid arthritis, and years of wearing ill-fitting shoes. Because part of the toe is higher than normal, excessive friction may result, leading to corns and possibly ulcers on the top of the toe. Wearing shoes, particularly shoes with low and narrow toe boxes, may be painful. Doctors treat hammer toe by ensuring that the shoes are comfortable and have a wide enough toe box to avoid further irritation to the toe. Any ulcer or other skin irritation is treated. Toe pads sold in pharmacies also help by shielding the affected toes from the overlying shoe. An operation to straighten the hammer toe may be needed when other treatments do not relieve the pain and disability caused by the rigidly fixed toe.
Last full review/revision December 2012 by Kendrick Alan Whitney, DPM