A hammertoe is a term that is commonly used to describe any type of toe deformity. It is a common problem that may or may not be serious enough to require treatment.
In a hammer toe the deformity usually exists in one toe (at the proximal interphalangeal joint) - the base of the toe points upward and the end of the toe points down.
The symptoms of a hammer toe are usually first noticed when a corn develops on the top of the toe and becomes painful, usually when wearing tight shoes. There may be a bursa under the corn or instead of a corn, depending on the pressure. Most of the symptoms are due to pressure from footwear on the toe. There may be a callus under the metatarsal head at the base of the toe. Initially, a hammer toe is usually flexible but when longstanding it becomes more rigid.
Hammer toes can be due to a number of things. Several factors are known to increase the risk of developing hammer toes:
Prevention of a hammer toe can be difficult as symptoms do not usually start until the problem is well established. Wearing shoes that have extra room in the toes may help the problem or slow down its development.