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Hammer Toe Treatment in Illinois

Do You Have an Abnormal Growth in One of Your Toes?

Hammer toe is a foot deformity caused by an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that normally hold a toe straight. This results in an abnormal bending of the middle joint of the toe, causing the toe to resemble a ‘hammer’ or to take the shape of an inverted ‘V’. Typically, in the early stages of the condition the affected toe will remain flexible and will respond to basic treatment. However, if left unchecked, a hammer toe can become fixed and may require surgery to restore it to its natural position. Hammer toe most commonly affects the second, third, or fourth toes of the foot.

Causes of Hammer Toe

The muscles of each toe work in pairs, in order to maintain basic flexibility and dexterity. When the muscles of a toe go out of balance, increased pressure is placed on that toe’s tendons and ligaments. This pressure forces the affected toe into a ‘hammerhead’ or inverted ‘V’ shape. There are three main reasons the muscles in a toe may be forced out of balance, leading to hammer toe:

  • Genetics – Some patients may have a genetic predisposition for developing hammer toe. An inherited instability in the foot, such as flat feet or exceptionally high arches, can put some patients at a higher risk for developing hammer toe in one or more of their toes.
  • Injury – Injuries to the toes, particularly from ill-fitting shoes, can lead to hammer toe. Wearing shoes that are too tight, too short, or too pointy can force the muscles in the toes out of balance. Women who wear high heels are especially prone to developing hammer toe.
  • Arthritis – Arthritis can often cause the balance in a toe to be disrupted, placing unusual pressure on the tendons and ligaments of the affected toe. Patients with arthritis of the foot typically have a higher risk for developing both flexible and rigid hammer toe.

Symptoms of Hammer Toe

The symptoms of hammer toe include:

  • The second, third, or fourth toe of the foot is bent at the middle joint
  • Corns or calluses on the top of the middle joint of the toe, or on the tip of the toe
  • Pain in toes or feet and difficulty finding comfortable shoes

Contact Fox Valley Orthopedics online or call us at (630) 584-1400 to schedule an appointment today.