A hammer toe or contracted toe is a deformity of the proximal interphalangeal joint of the second, third, or fourth toe causing it to be permanently bent, resembling a hammer. Mallet toe is a similar condition affecting the distal interphalangeal joint.
It can also be caused by muscle, nerve, or joint damage resulting from conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, complex regional pain syndrome or diabetes. The treatment consisting of physical therapy and new shoes with soft, spacious toe boxes is enough to resolve the condition, while in more severe or longstanding cases podiatric surgery may be necessary to correct the deformity.
In some cases, usually when the hammertoe has become more rigid and painful, or when an open sore has developed, surgery is needed. Hammertoes are progressive – they don’t go away by themselves and usually they will get worse over time. Hammer and mallet toe is common, affecting up to 15% of population in India.