Hammer toes occur when the middle joint of the toe becomes crooked. It can affect any of the toes but is most often seen in the second toe (next to the big toe). Hammer toes can cause pain where shoes rub on the top of the joint or due to abnormal pressure on the tip of the toe or the joint behind the toe in the ball of the foot. Hammer toes are often hereditary but can also be caused by trauma, other foot deformity such as a bunion, and certain medical conditions such as inflammatory arthritis.
Conservative care includes using orthotic insoles, toe splints, and wide fitting footwear with a deep toe box. Surgery is usually needed if these measure fail. There are several different surgical options available which can involve soft tissue rebalancing and bony realignment. Surgery can be performed by both open and minimally invasive techniques.