Hammer Toes

Hammer Toes

Hammer toe  is a toe deformity characterized by the tip of the toe turning downwards and the joint in the middle of the toe sticking up. Hammer toe can occur on the index, middle, or ring fingers.

This condition is known as hammer toe because the bent toe resembles the shape of a hammer. Hammer toe generally causes sufferers to have difficulty walking due to joint stiffness, pain in the flexed part, and swelling they experience.

If it just happened, the crooked finger can still be straightened again. However, if left for a long time, crooked fingers will be difficult to straighten. In this condition, hammer toe sufferers must undergo surgery so that the crooked toes can return straight.

Causes of Hammer Toes

In most cases, hammer toe is caused by the habit of wearing shoes that are too narrow. This habit makes the muscles and tendons in the toes tighten and shorten. As a result, the toes will bend.

Apart from the habit of wearing narrow shoes, hammer toe can also be caused by the following things:

  • Suffer from certain diseases, such as arthritis, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Had an injury to the toe
  • Have a big toe deformity ( bunion )
  • Have genetic disorders, for example  flat feet  or too curved soles
  • Have an injury to the peripheral nerves or spinal nerves

Symptoms of Hammer Toes

Hammer toe is characterized by a crooked toe. The joint in the middle of the finger with hammer toe bends upward so that the tip of the finger bends downward. This condition makes the toes affected by hammer toe shaped like a hammer.

Apart from crooked fingers, hammer toe sufferers can also experience the following symptoms:

  • Corns and calluses on the toes that are bent from rubbing against the inside of the shoe
  • Redness and swelling of the bent finger joint
  • Stiffness in crooked toes
  • Pain and difficulty when walking or putting on shoes

When to see a doctor

Check with  your doctor  if your finger looks crooked, feels painful, and has sores and swelling on your toe. Examination by a doctor should also be done if the pain in the feet makes it difficult to walk and uncomfortable when wearing shoes.

Immediately consult a doctor if you have diabetes and experience symptoms of hammer toe . If hammer toe causes an injury, you will be more at risk for ulcers ( diabetic ulcers ) and infection in the feet.

Diagnosis of Hammertoes

The doctor will conduct a debriefing with the patient regarding the complaints that are felt, when the symptoms appear, medical history, and habits that can cause hammer toe to appear .

The doctor can determine hammer toe by examining the condition of the bent toe, namely by feeling, moving, and assessing the response of the toe joint. If needed, the doctor can also take an X-ray of the patient's foot to see possible injuries to the muscles, ligaments and bones in the toes.

Hammer Toe Treatment

Hammer toe treatment is adjusted to the severity experienced by the patient. Treatment methods include:

Treatment without surgery

If a bent toe can still be straightened, the doctor will advise the patient to take the following steps:

  • Cold compresses on bent fingers to relieve swelling.
  • Massage and gently straighten your toes to relieve pain.
  • Use special shoe soles to help straighten your toes and relieve pain.
  • Regularly practice bent toes to get them straight again, for example by picking up a towel or marbles using your toes
  • Choose the type of shoe according to the activity being carried out, for example  sports shoes  for exercising.
  • Wear shoes that fit on your feet or at least there is a distance of 1 cm between the tip of the shoe and the toe, so that the bent toes are not pressed.

To help relieve pain, the doctor will give non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs ), such as ibuprofen or naproxen . If the pain is unbearable, the doctor will inject a  corticosteroid class of drugs  into the crooked finger.


In hammer toe which is classified as severe and cannot be treated with the method above, the doctor will perform surgery to straighten the crooked finger.

The operation is carried out by cutting a small part of the bone in the crooked toe, then connecting the two parts of the bone with a special pen. The pen will  be removed  after the bones are connected naturally.

Hammer toe surgery generally does not require hospitalization. However, this procedure can carry risks of bleeding, infection, nerve injury, and stiffness in the operated area. The patient's toes that are already straight can also be bent again, but this condition rarely occurs.

Hammer Toe Complications

If it just happened, hammer toe usually won't cause serious complaints and the sufferer can still move freely. However, the toe tendons can tighten over time, causing the toe to bend permanently.

Crooked toes also increase the risk of developing corns ( clavus ) or calluses . This of course can cause pain, injury, and the risk of infection in the foot area.

Hammer Toe Prevention

The main way to prevent hammer toe is to wear shoes that are the right size. In addition, hammer toe can also be prevented by choosing shoes that are soft inside.

If your shoes are starting to feel cramped, immediately replace your shoes with shoes that are more comfortable. Finally, avoid wearing high heels.

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