A hammertoe is a deformity of the toe in which the toe
is bent toward the floor at the part of the toe called the
proximal interphalangeal joint. The position of the toe
resembles a hammer, hence the term “hammertoe”.
It is usually the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th toes that are affected.
A similar condition involves bending of the toe toward the
floor at both of its joints (proximal and distal interphalangeal
joints). This condition is called clawtoe deformity as the
toe resembles a claw.
Causes of Hammertoes or Clawtoes
The most common cause is from ill-fitting footwear such
as shoes that or too short or narrow for the foot. Maintaining
the toes in a bent position for extended periods of time
can cause the muscles to shorten resulting in a hammertoe
or clawtoe deformity. The bone may change shape due to long
standing misalignment of the toe causing the deformity to
become rigid or fixed in position.
Though hammertoes may run in the family, they are not hereditary.
Although hammertoes are not inherited, it is possible to
inherit a faulty foot structure which may lead to hammertoe
Treatment of Hammertoes
Conservative or nonsurgical treatment is mainly focused
on relieving pressure over the affected area and stopping
the progression of the deformity. Methods commonly used
to relieve pain and pressure from hammertoes include:
If conservative measures do not adequately relieve symptoms
surgical treatment may be advised. Surgery for a hammertoe
or a clawtoe may involve removal of a portion of the bone
in a procedure called an arthroplasty or a procedure involving
fusion of the affected joint called an arthrodesis may be