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Hammer toes are a condition often seen along with bunions. Hammer toes represent a contraction of the toes in such a way that the posterior (back) half of the toe sticks up directly and the distal (end) part of the toe moves back and towards the ground.

"... able to walk without pain."

The second and fifth toes are the most common to become hammer toes.

The cause is most commonly an inherited muscle imbalance. Sometimes an abnormal bone length can contribute to this condition, so that the toe buckles, causing the joint to contract. This in turn causes the tendons to shorten.

Corns

Corns, the build-up of dead skin cells where shoes press and rub, often form on top of the contracted hammer toe. Corns can form inside the toe as well.

Hammer toes may be flexible or rigid. They may involve a curling of the toe not only upward or downward, but to the side, and can press into an adjacent toe. This commonly occurs between the fourth and fifth toes, and is referred to as a "curled toe."

Treatment Under Self-Care

(1) Wearing a shoe with a larger "toe box" (front half of the shoe);

(2) Utilizing protective pads or moleskin to cushion the skin from painful pressure.

Podiatric Treatment

Treatment of hammer toes by a podiatrist often consists of:

Conservative Treatment

(1) The use of shoe inserts (orthotic devices) which are prescribed by the podiatrist.

(2) Specially fitted or prescription shoes large enough to accommodate the hammer toes.

(3) Medication such as a steroid injection or oral anti-inflammatory medicine.

Surgery

Surgical correction of hammer toes and curled toes can be performed in an outpatient surgical center or in the doctor's office, with follow-up visits to the doctor. See your podiatrist for more information.

The goal is to return your feet to a condition where you can wear any shoes that you wish.

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