A hammer toe is a toe that tends to remain bent at the middle joint in a claw-like position. There are 2 types of hammer toe:
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Hammer toe may be present at birth or develop later in life due to tendons that have tightened, causing the toe's joints to curl downward.
Occasionally, all toes may be bent. This may be due to problems with the peripheral nerves or the spinal cord.
Factors that increase your chance of getting hammer toe include:
If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to hammer toe. Talk to your doctor about symptoms such as:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam of the toe will be done. Your doctor can diagnose hammer toe by its appearance.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
The toe will need time to heal. This may include:
Severe cases require an operation to straighten the joint:
To help reduce your chances of getting hammer toe, take the following steps:
American Podiatric Medical Association
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Nurses Entrepreneurial Foot Care Association of Canada
Hammer toe. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00160. Updated September 2012. Accessed March 2, 2015.
Hammertoe. Foot Health Facts—American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.foothealthfacts.org/footankleinfo/hammertoes.htm. Accessed March 2, 2015.
Hammer toe. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 25, 2010. Accessed March 2, 2015.
Last reviewed March 2015 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 2/17/2014