Hammer toes result from a muscle imbalance which causes the ligaments and tendons to become unnaturally tight. This results in the middle joint in the toe curling downward, potentially leading to severe pressure and pain. Hammer toes may occur in any toe except the big toe. There is often discomfort at the top part of the toe due to rubbing against the shoe.
There are two types of hammer toes, flexible and rigid. With a flexible hammer toe, the joint has the ability to move and the toe can be straightened manually. With a rigid hammer toe, movement is very limited and can be extremely painful, sometimes causing foot movement to become restricted and lead to extra stress at the ball of the foot and possibly cause pain and the development of corns and calluses.
Adjusting footwear is a very important step in the treatment of hammer toes. When choosing a shoe, make sure the toe box is high and broad and can accommodate the shape of your foot, causing less friction against the toes.