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Hammer Toe

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Updated September 29, 2009

hammer toe

A hammer toe.

Image © A.D.A.M.
Definition: A hammer toe occurs when the middle of the toe points upwards abnormally. This most often occurs in the second toe, and is often the result of a big toe bunion pushing on the second toe. A painful callous often forms on top of the first joint in the toe.

Treatment of a hammer toe may consist of simple padding of the callous on top of the toe, as well as buying appropriate footwear. The best shoes for patients with a hammer toe will have a wide toebox, no pressure on the end of the toe, and will not press on a bunion (which may cause worsening of the hammer toe). If these treatments are not sufficient at correcting the hammer toe, an operation to straighten the toe may be necessary. This is often performed in conjunction with surgery for a bunion deformity. The surgical treatment of a hammer toe can consist of either cutting the tendons to relieve the pressure that causes the deformity, or fusing the toe so that it points straight permanently.

Sources:

Mizel, MS, Yodlowski ML; "Disorders of the Lesser Metatarsophalangeal Joints." J. Am. Acad. Ortho. Surg., May 1995; 3: 166 - 173.

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