What causes hammer toe and what are 3 efficient ways to treat it?


Hammer toe deformity brings a whole new meaning to the phrase of walking a mile in someone’s, or in this case your own, shoes. A painful condition, hammer toe causes the toes to bend in an odd position instead of lying flat which leads to discomfort and can require surgery if kept unchecked.


If you notice that one of your toes is bent upward, but still able to move in either direction independently, and this becomes increasingly painful over time while walking then it could be a sign of a hammer toe. Hammer toe can also result from your foot being forced into a downward or outward position due to the friction and rubbing against the inside of your shoe. Uncomfortable or tight footwear can cause friction causing corns, blisters or calluses on the toe which can worsen the pain caused by hammer toe. Pain due to bent toes is much more likely to occur when you are active, for example making sudden movements on a tennis court or vigorous pivoting during sports activities. One of the most significant causes of hammer toe however is something most women are guilty of, wearing the wrong shoes. Hammer toe often is diagnosed after women wear shoes for a prolonged period of time, and the shoes are ill-fitting or put extra pressure on the toes (ie, high heels).



This usually happens when the foot muscles are weak and can cause inflexibility in the long run. Hammer toe is often confused with claw toe or mallet toe but there is a difference between the three – Hammer toe affects the middle toe joint and occurs along with foot bunions. Claw toe affects the middle joint and the joint near the tip, and can affect more than one toe at a time. Mallet toe usually affects the second toe and curves the tip of the toe.



What are the main causes of hammer toe?

There are many potential culprits for developing a toe abnormality, and certain factors may include ill-fitting shoes, or genetics, or due to an underlying medical condition.


  • Genetics: People who are born with long bones in their toes can suffer from this deformity. Someone with a high arch and flat feet experience hammer toe due to feet instability.
    • Unreliable footwear: High heels may make you feel at the top of the world but it comes with a price. These pointed, fashionable shoes cramp toes, which over a period of time results in curling.
    • Trauma or ailments: Previous neglected foot injuries can develop hammer toes. Additionally, people suffering from diabetes have a higher risk of this toe deformity.



3 tips to prevent and treat hammer toe

Taking certain measures can not only prevent toe abnormality but can reverse hammer toe symptoms too. Here are three ways you can take care of your feet and avoid surgery:

  1. Regular exercise: A workout is not only essential for your body but can be a boon for your feet too. Simple stretching and splaying toes for a few minutes strengthens the muscles, increasing stability of your feet.

  2. Exfoliate: Corns and callus aggravate chances of bent toes and can be equally excruciating. Exfoliating the calluses with pumice stone softens and reduces its size, further lowering the risk of hooked toes.

  3. Comfortable shoes: A shoe with wider area for your toe and low heels can help relieve your digits from any injuries or pain. Orthotic Insoles are another way you can get the right arch for good stability and ensure your feet aren’t doing the extra work.



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