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Hammer Toes

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Learn more about hammer toe and its symptoms and treatment options.

Hammer toe gets its name from the way it looks – if you have the condition, your toe joints will be buckled, resembling a hammer, and you may develop corns and calluses. This curling and buckling can be caused by:

  • Tight tendons
  • Muscle imbalance tight tendons or a muscle imbalance.

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Symptoms

Hammer toes can vary in severity and can be flexible or rigid. Some common symptoms are:

  • Curling toes
  • Thickened skin above or below the toes
  • Pain or discomfort in the affected area

Treatments

If your symptoms are mild, changing shoes may be all the treatment you need. Using a splint or pad to hold your toes straight also may help. You may also try cushioning any corns and calluses with felt padding. If your symptoms are severe, surgery may be needed. The type of procedure often depends on whether your toe joints are flexible or rigid.

  • Flexible joints – The tendon may be cut and repositioned to release a buckled joint.
  • Rigid joints – A piece of bone might be removed to help straighten the toes.
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