Condition: Hammer Toe

Hammer Toe is a visible foot deformity that occurs due to abnormalities in the muscles.


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What is a Hammer Toe?

Hammer Toe is a visible foot deformity that occurs due to abnormalities in the muscles that usually hold the toe straight. These deformities happen over extended periods of time due to wear and tear from traumas, shoes that a person wears and foot structure. Hammertoe usually occurs in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th toes. If suffering from Hammertoe, a person may need to consider changing their footwear to accommodate the structure of their foot. If the pain is impacting daily life, then surgery is an option.

What are the symptoms of a Hammer Toe?

Symptoms of Hammer Toe include pain or discomfort in your toes, making it difficult to wear certain footwear and causing pain when walking. Moving your toes may become difficult to do without pain.

How do you prevent of a Hammer Toe?

It is possible to proactively take measures to prevent Hammer Toe. Firstly, make sure to wear appropriate footwear giving your toes enough room to be flexible. Avoiding high heels with pointed toes will also help; opt for a lower shoe. If Hammertoe is not avoided or treated properly, eventually it can cause permanent bending of the toe.

What are the risk factors of a Hammer Toe?

There are several risk factors for developing Hammer Toe. If your 2nd toe is longer than your big toe it can put you at a greater risk. Women are more likely to develop Hammer Toe than men, and the older you are the more likely you are to develop it. Additionally, if you suffer from Arthritis or diabetes, you may be prone to developing foot deformities.

Why might Hammer Toe Surgery be needed?

Toe problems and deformities like hammer toe happen when the tendons that allow the toes to move get too tight or out of balance. The affected toe rubs on other toes and on the inside of your shoe causing pressure and pain.

Placing padding between the toes and strapping them in place can help to stop the pain caused by rubbing. Insoles tailored to your feet and shoes will help take the pressure off any painful areas and special shoes that are both wider and deeper than normal can stop the toes rubbing together. If the pain persists surgery may be recommended.

What are the risks with Hammer Toe Surgery?

As with any surgery there can be risks and complications although most people make a good recovery. Some of the risks include:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Nerve damage
  • Loss of movement

Our leading expert orthopaedic consultants will be able to help with any concerns you may have.

How to prepare for Hammer Toe Surgery

Your consultant will provide you with all the relevant information before your procedure along with any preparation you may need to do in the days leading up to your surgery. It is important to tell your consultant about any medicines you may be taking, including any over the counter pain medicines such as paracetamol or aspirin.

You may need imaging tests before your surgery, including ultrasound, X-ray or an MRI. Do not eat or drink 6 hours before you are due to have surgery otherwise your surgery may be delayed. Please ensure you have a companion available to take you home after you leave OneWelbeck Orthopaedics.

What will happen during my surgery?

The type of problem you have with your toe will determine what surgery you have. The surgery will involve either releasing or lengthening the tendons, putting the joints back in place and fixing with wires or tiny screws, putting joints back into place and either straightening the toes or changing the shape of it.

What happens after Hammer Toe Surgery?

After your operation, you will be watched by your dedicated nurse at OneWelbeck Orthopaedics for the few hours after your surgery. To keep your toe for being damaged further, you may need to wear a surgical shoe. You may also need to use crutches to stop you putting weight on your toe. Once you have seen your Consultant you will be able to go home the same day. Make sure you follow any advice given to you by your consultant orthopaedic surgeon including any advice on pain relief and wound dressing.

Treatment Options

If not surgical remedies for Hammer Toe are not successful, surgery can be used to treat Hammer Toe. This is especially true if persistent pain is ongoing.