Hammer Toe

Hammer Toe: Understanding the pain

Hammer toe is a common foot deformity characterized by an abnormal bending of the toe joint. This results in a toe that resembles a hammer. This condition can cause discomfort, pain, and difficulty wearing shoes. In this blog post, we’ll explore the signs, symptoms, causes of hammer toe and what treatment is available. 

Signs and Symptoms of Hammer Toe

Hammer toe typically affects the second, third, or fourth toe, causing it to bend downward at the middle joint. The main signs and symptoms of include:

  • Toe deformity: The affected toe appears bent or contracted, resembling the shape of a hammer.
  • Pain or discomfort: Pain or discomfort when wearing shoes or walking, especially if the toe rubs against the inside of footwear.
  • Corns and calluses: The abnormal toe position may lead to the formation of corns or calluses on the top of the affected toe or the ball of the foot.
  • Limited range of motion: In severe cases, we see restriction to the toe’s movement, making it difficult to straighten or flex the affected toe joint.

Causes of Hammer Toe

Several factors may contribute to the development of this injury including:

  • Foot structure: Individuals with a high arch or flat foot may be more prone to developing hammer toes due to imbalances in foot mechanics.
  • Tight footwear: Wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow can exert pressure on the toes, causing them to bend abnormally over time.
  • Trauma or injury: Previous foot injuries or trauma to the toes can increase the risk.
  • Muscle imbalance: Weakness or imbalance in the muscles and tendons of the foot can lead to toe deformities.
  • Genetics: Some people may inherit a predisposition to developing certain foot conditions over time. 

Treatment Options for Hammer Toe

Chiropractic care and physiotherapy can play a valuable role in managing hammer toe symptoms and improving foot function. Treatment options may include:

  • Manual therapy: Chiropractors and physiotherapists may use manual therapy techniques such as joint mobilization, soft tissue massage, and stretching exercises to improve toe flexibility and reduce pain.
  • Toe exercises: Specific exercises designed to strengthen the muscles and tendons of the foot can be used. They can help correct muscle imbalances and improve toe alignment.
  • Orthotic devices: Custom orthotic inserts or toe spacers may be recommended to support the arch of the foot. In addition to relieving pressure on the toes, they can also promote proper toe alignment.
  • Footwear modifications: Wearing shoes with a wide toe box and low heel can help accommodate the bent toe. In addition, they can reduce friction and pressure on the affected area.
  • Toe splints or pads: Non-invasive devices such as toe splints or pads may be used to gently straighten and realign the affected toe, providing pain relief and preventing further deformity.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Making changes such as avoiding high-heeled shoes, wearing properly fitting footwear, and maintaining a healthy weight can help alleviate symptoms and prevent hammer toe progression.


Hammer toe is a common foot condition characterized by an abnormal bending of the toe joint, resulting in pain, discomfort, and limited mobility. While it can be bothersome, it is important to know that effective treatment options are available. Chiropractic care and physiotherapy can help alleviate symptoms, improve toe alignment, and restore foot function. If you’re experiencing signs of hammer toe, consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and personalized treatment recommendations. With the right approach, you can find relief and regain comfort and mobility in your feet.

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