Hammertoes are deformities of the three middle toes where they appear permanently bent. This occurs when the muscles that usually work together to move the middle toes become imbalanced and apply inappropriate pressure on the joint causing the hammer shape. Ill-fitting shoes can trigger the development of hammer toes. Often hammer toes are also associated with bunions but may present on their own. Hammertoes can be painful because of pressure against footwear or overload under the toe joints. Initially, the joints remain flexible but with time the joints can stiffen up.
Various degrees of deformities exist and often pain is caused by pressure from footwear. Wearing wide fitting shoes with enough space for the bend toes is often enough. Insoles and protective padding might be of help as well. In case this does not provide sufficient pain relief, an operation to straighten the toes is successful. There are different ways of achieving a pain-free straight toe and sometimes a small pin is temporarily needed to help to stabilise the toe. The swelling may take time to resolve but patients are very satisfied with the nice straight toe.