Hammertoe is a deformed, claw-shaped toe, usually the second toe, that results from permanent flexion (bending) between one or both phalangeal joints. It is a progressive problem that could appear on one or all of the toes, hammertoe must be corrected early if sufferers hope to avoid surgery.
“Hammertoe is an imbalance in the tendons and muscles,” says Dr. Jennifer Purvis, DPM, foot and ankle surgeon at Landmark Foot and Ankle Center in Lorton, Va. Over time, the imbalance in those tendons and muscles begins to cause the joint to bend, resulting in hammertoe.
Hammertoe can affect any of the toes on the foot except the big toe, though the most common toe to suffer is the second one. While the smallest toe can be affected, the condition causes the toe to twist out to the side rather than to curl forward. Hammertoe is not very discriminating; it may appear on all four toes of the foot or on only one toe, depending on the cause. Dr. Purvis says that many times a person with a bunion will have a hammertoe on the second toe, because the bunion has pushed the big toe in and crowded the second toe. Often corns will develop on the skin covering the joints after the bent toe repeatedly rubs against the tops of shoes, and the area may become red