Hammer Toe

A hammer toe results from mechanical failure of the so-called MTP or metatarsophalangeal joint, located at the point where the toe is connected to the foot. Usually after a period of pain in the ball of the foot, the toe rapidly deforms. This is due to rupture of a structure called the plantar plate.

When it deforms, the foot can become less painful, but this is usually temporary. Eventually pain in the ball of the foot can reappear and the toe will start to rub on shoes and can be very painful indeed. Correctly made custom orthotics help alleviate pain and prevent worsening of the condition.

Other conditions

There are a number of rarer conditions where the lesser toes can be excessively short, long, big or bent.


Treatment of all of these problems can be non-operative or operative but it is important to make a correct diagnosis and to understand the underlying mechanism that has lead to the deformity.

Likewise, the cause of clawing of the toes should never go un-investigated, as the underlying neurological condition needs to be identified so that treatment and expectations can be managed in an optimal way.

Once appropriate investigations have been completed, the condition can be treated.

Non-surgical treatment

Non-operative management of lesser toe deformities include advice on footwear, dealing with corns and callosities and the use of protective silicone sleeves to avoid pressure and rubbing.

Surgical Treatment

Operative treatment involves correction of the deformity and at the same time, addressing the mechanical cause of the underlying problem. Surgery can be performed under local or general anaesthesia and for many lesser toe problems, a temporary wire in the toe will be required for four to six weeks.

Whilst this is inconvenient, the problem with lesser toe deformities is that they generally get worse with time and appropriate intervention to correct the problem can save a lot of trouble in the future.




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