Medical Library: Foot & Ankle – Hammer Toe Correction

A hammer toe is a painful foot condition that occurs when the middle joint of a toe (most often the second toe) points upwards abnormally, and is often the result of a big toe bunion pushing on the second toe. With this toe out of place, it rubs on shoes until painful callous forms on top of the first joint in the toe.

Simple adhesive padding for the callous, as well as appropriate footwear are usually the first steps to treat hammer toe. The best shoes for patients with a hammer toe will have a wide toe box, 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, 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.