Hammertoe is a deformity of any toe that bends at the middle or distal joint. With this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, resembling a hammer. Deformities can slightly vary from each toe. The contracture can happen at either of the small joints in the toe.
A hammer toe can hurt a lot, especially as the toe rubs against your shoe when you walk. Shoes that are too tight can cause hammer toes. If a shoe forces a toe to stay bent for a long time, the muscles in your toe get tight and the tendons that connect the muscles to the bone get shorter. Over time, the muscles cannot straighten your toe. Sometimes, diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis also can cause hammer toes.
Early treatment can help your toe straighten before it gets badly bent. You can wear roomy shoes and use pads to keep the toe from rubbing against your shoes. If your toe is badly bent, you may need surgery to straighten it.
Hammer toe surgery straightens a curled toe that causes problems and does not get better with other treatment. The surgery consists of one or more small cuts or incisions on your deformed toe joint. During the surgery, the tendons may be lengthened, shorted, cut, or change position to help correct the deformity. A piece of bone is typically removed, the joint is either left alone (arthroplasty) or your small toe joint may be held together with a screw or pin to fuse the joint. A pin or wire may stay in your toe, or it may be removed after about 3 to 6 weeks. Sometimes a pin is placed so that it sticks out the end of your toe. Then it can be removed without another surgery.
Hammer toe surgery is typically is a quick recovery with little complications.