Hammer toes are one of the most common deformities in our fingers. There are several factors that influence its appearance and that we can avoid to protect ourselves.

Hammer toes turn out to be a digital deformity that occurs mostly in the toes. They get this name because they acquire a flexed position very similar to a hammer.

Between 2 and 20% of the population has this condition congenitally, from birth, or they develop it during childhood. Hammer toes affect the joints of the foot bones, especially the second, third, and fourth toes.

Sometimes they can also occur in the fingers of the hand , but in this case, it is due to traumatic causes. Below you will learn everything you need to know about this body deformity.

What are hammer toes?

Hammertoes have a very characteristic curve abnormal, since bent Z – shaped. They cause an extension of the metatarsal phalanx and a flexion of the distal interphalangeal  joint, which is the joint closest to the nail. There is an alteration in the muscles, tendons and ligaments that normally kept the fingers straight.

Sometimes, it is painful and favors the formation of corns or sores that make the situation worse. This occurs because the curved area can rub against shoes and cause injuries. In addition, on many occasions they are accompanied by bunions that increase deformity and pain.

What causes this condition?

Hammer toes can have multiple causes. In the case of occurring in the fingers of the hand, the most common cause is trauma. As a general rule, the causes and risk factors for hammer toes can be the following:

  • Trauma: Falls, blows, fractures, compressions and sprains to the phalanges can cause injuries to ligaments, tendons or muscles that heal poorly or are poorly positioned.
  • Wrong use of footwear: Certain types of footwear that do not adapt correctly to the shape of the foot, can cause one of our toes to receive too much weight and become deformed. It is the example of some high-heeled or very narrow shoes.
  • Poor foot posture.
  • Pathological causes: Diseases such as arthritis, polio, and diabetes can increase the risk of developing foot deformities.
  • Hereditary factors: Inherited congenital alterations that affect our anatomy can cause alterations in the shape of our fingers. An example is the increased length of a finger.
  • Old age: The older, higher risk of brittle bone deformity.
  • Female sex: Women are more likely to suffer from hammer toes.

What symptoms do hammer toes have?

In addition to the noticeable change in shape, or visible Z-shaped deformity, hammer toes tend to have quite common symptoms in all people:

  • Pain.
  • Inflammation or irritation from rubbing.
  • Presence of scratches or wounds caused by rubbing with footwear.
  • Flushing or redness.
  • Appearance of corns or corns.
  • Discomfort when putting on footwear.
  • Difficulty walking.
  • Balance disturbances in more severe cases.


With regard to treatment, the flexibility of the limb must be taken into account.  Based on this, there are differences in how to treat it.

If the finger is still flexible, the solution is easier. In these cases, the treatment is carried out with physiotherapy recommendations. These should always be advised by professionals. We can highlight some of them:

  • Walk correctly with wide and comfortable shoes.
  • Use cushioned insoles to distribute the weight over the entire sole of the foot.
  • Avoid wearing high heels.
  • Adhesive tape to force the finger to be in a normal position.
  • Use of splints and slings: It is similar to adhesive tape but they are more comfortable to use.
  • Exercises to increase flexibility: Traction of the fingers, rolled towel over the feet and wrinkling it with the fingers, lifting marbles with the fingers, etc.
  • In the presence of pain and inflammation, pharmacological treatment is used, after medical evaluation.

If the finger has lost flexibility, the treatment must be surgical to modify the joint and rebuild it in a normal position. As a general rule, hospital admission is not necessary. It is a surgery that does not involve a long recovery.

The surgery is performed and the same day you return home. Special footwear must be worn 3 weeks in a row. Full recovery is usually achieved a month after the operation, if there are no complications. In the second month you can do sports normally.

Hammer toes, a common deformity.

Hammer toes are one of the most common deformities in our fingers. There are several factors that influence its appearance

However, if you have discomfort or pain in your feet, do not hesitate to consult your doctor. More specifically, you can do it by going to a podiatrist, who is the foot specialist.  The earlier any alteration is detected, the better the prognosis.