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Hammer Toes

Hammer Toes

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Hammer toes result from a muscle imbalance in the foot wherein the ligaments and tendons become unnaturally tight. A hammer toe is a toe that is contracted at the PIP joint (the first “knuckle” joint in the toe). Most hammer toes start off painlessly and most people don’t even necessarily recognize that they have one. Eventually, many hammer toes can become extremely painful. Over time, the ligaments and tendons in the toe tighten, causing the toe’s joints to curl downwards. Most commonly, pain is felt at the top of the knuckle due to rubbing inside a shoe, though sometimes there is pain on the sides of the joints in the toes, from adjacent pressure and rubbing between toes.

Hammer toes are classified based on the mobility of the toe joints. There are two types – flexible and rigid. In a flexible hammer toe, the joint has the ability to move. This type of hammer toe can be straightened manually. A rigid hammer toe does not have that same ability to move. Movement is very limited and can be extremely painful. This sometimes causes foot movement to become restricted leading to extra stress at the ball-of-the-foot, and possibly causing pain and the development of corns and calluses.

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