A hammer toe is a bent toe that looks a little like a claw. It usually occurs to the second toe in from the big toe, but it can occur to any of the other toes as well. Hammer toes have limited movement and can be extremely painful in some cases. Poorly fitting shoes can exacerbate the pain, especially where the toe rubs the top of the shoe. This rubbing can lead to a callus, corn, or ulceration (an open sore) in extreme cases.
What Causes Hammer Toes?
Hammer toes are caused by a muscle imbalance that causes the ligaments and tendons to become unnaturally tight. Hammer toes can also be caused by arthritis and/or a bunion, as the big toe slants towards the other toes and causes them to push up out of the way.
Treatment and Prevention
Proper footwear with a good fit can help to reduce the irritations involved in causing a hammer toe. When selecting a shoe, make sure the shoe is the right length, with a wide and high toe box. This will help to eliminate friction against the top of the toes as you walk.
Other conservative treatments include a number of different forefoot products designed to help reduce friction to the top of the toe. These include gel toe caps, toe shields, and hammer toe splints. In some extreme cases surgery may be required.
At SHOES-n-FEET® we have a number of shoe and foot care products to accommodate a hammer toe. We can also perform a hammer toe stretch on a shoe to reduce the friction caused when the shoe rubs the top of the hammer toe.