Anatomy of a hammer toe

A bunion can lead to a hammer toe.

Anatomy of a hammer toeMany people hear about hammer toe - or may even have one - without knowing exactly what the deformity is. It affects the middle joint of one or all of the four smaller toes, and can be a major source of pain and embarrassment.

The National Institutes of Health reports that hammer toe most often affects the second toe and causes it to bend downward, becoming progressively rigid over time. Moreover, hammer toe is commonly accompanied by corns on the top of the toe and calluses on the bottom.

Causes include wearing high heels on a regular basis, footwear that is too tight and congenital or nerve disorders, according to the agency.

PremierPodiatry.com reports that, over time, the affected toe joint becomes more stiff and can eventually dislocate, causing the toe to sit upward.

The website recommends visiting a podiatrist if an individual thinks they may have a hammer toe. The doctor may provide exercises to keep the toe from stiffening as well as give recommendations for splints or orthotics. In extreme cases, surgery is necessary to correct hammer toe.

Oftentimes, a bunion can cause hammer toe. So people may be successful in preventing both bunions and hammer toe by using bunion splints or orthotics, which could help them avoid painful, costly surgery.

« Previous: Warm up exercises may reduce injuries stemming from bunions | Back to Bunion News articles