A hammer toe is a toe that tends to remain bent at the middle joint in a claw-like position. There are two types of hammer toe:
- Flexible hammer toe—can be straightened by hand
- Rigid hammer toe—cannot be pulled straight and can be extremely painful. The position of the toe can also lead to corns or calluses. These may also be painful.
The sooner a hammer toe is treated, the better the outcome. If you suspect you have this condition, contact your doctor.
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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
Wearing inappropriate footwear:
- Shoes that don't fit properly, for either an adult or child
- High heels
- Narrow-toed shoes
- The foot having a high arch
- Injury to a toe
Occasionally, all toes may be bent. This may be due to problems with the peripheral nerves or the spinal cord.
Last reviewedJune 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.