A hammertoe is a contracture or bending of a toe at the first joint. This bending causes the toe to appear like an upside down “V” when looking at it from the side. Any toe can become a hammertoe but usually this affects the toes other than the big toe. Hammertoes begin as a flexible contracture; however, as the development becomes more serious and prolonged, the toe is rigid and misaligned.
Typically the symptoms associated with hammertoe include pain on the top of the toe when it rubs inside a shoe. This rubbing can also cause the forming of a corn, blister, or ulcer. The joint contracture often manifests with redness, pain, and swelling. Hammertoes are formed due to abnormal balance and muscles in the toes. This abnormal balance can cause variances in tendon pull leading to contracutre. Biomechanical abnormalities such as muscle weakness, tightened Achilles’ tendon, collapsing arches, and injury can all lead to hammertoe formation. Treatments can include the use of padding, functional orthotics, and shoe changes.