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Sometimes you may notice a toe that isn't aligned with the others. It may be buckling and popping up. You may notice the little toe curving in. If this is the case, you may be developing a #HammerToe. My name is Dr. Andrew Schneider, and I'm a podiatrist in Houston, Texas. Hammertoes are commonly seen in all podiatry offices. Some are painful and others just don't look nice. In today's video, I'll discuss what a hammer toe is and what makes one form. But before I get into it, please like, share, and subscribe to this video. Also, I wrote a book all about hammertoes. You can get it for free at 

A hammer toe is a broad term describing the buckling of the joints of the toes. The toes take on a hammered shape and can become painful. The discomfort can be present in a few places. A development of hard skin called a corn can form over the joint that's buckling. This will increase the pain over the joint. Sometimes hard, dead skin forms at the end of the toe, which can also be painful. Finally, the force of the hammer toe can push down the metatarsal bone before it, and it can develop a callus. And that can be painful too. This is why it's so important to identify and treat a hammer toe as early as possible. Hammer toes are caused by faulty foot mechanics. We see them in people with flat feet. Hammer toes are almost a hallmark of a high arched foot. In either case the tendons start working too hard and they're not balanced off by the tendons on the opposing side. This loss of mechanical advantage causes an imbalance in the joints of the toe. This imbalance leads to the toe deforming and develops a hammer toe. If you wear a shoe that doesn't fit properly, it can also cause an imbalance and lead to the development or worsening of a hammer toe. Shoes aren't usually the primary reason for developing a hammer toe. They end up taking most of the blame, but probably more blame than they should. Trauma can also cause a hammertoe to form. Stubbing, jamming, or breaking your toe is enough to disrupt the joints and cause a hammertoe to develop. 

There are four types of a hammer toe. They're differentiated based on the joints that are affected. Technically, a hammer toe describes when the first joint of the toe is buckled. This can lead to the knuckle of the toe hitting the top of the shoe, which will cause a corn to form on top of the joint. There's also the possibility that the pressure from the toe buckling will put a pressure back on the metatarsal bone. This will cause it to drop and will cause pain beneath the foot. 

When there's a contracture of the second joint of the toe, it's called a #MalletToe. Similar to a hammer toe, it can also cause a corn to form on top of the joint. There's also often pain at the end of the toe, sometimes developing a painful callus. 

When you have a contracture of both the first and second joints of the toe, you have what is known as a #ClawToe. These can present with corns over either or both joints. You also may have pain beneath the foot and at the end of the toe. 

Finally, there's a type of hammer toe that primarily affects the fifth toe. It's called an adductovarus hammer toe. Instead of buckling up the toe twists. It becomes painful because you end up walking on the side of the toe rather than the bottom. We'll often see a corn at the side of the fifth toe or a soft corn between the fourth and fifth toes. Symptoms of a hammertoe include a deformity of the toe, where the joints abnormally bend and buckle. The toe can become stiff and less able to bend, which can be painful. Also, corns can form on the top or the ends of the toes. These are caused by the rubbing of the shoes and they also might be uncomfortable.