A hammer toe is a curled toe which is bent at the middle joint causing the toe to be bent upward while the tip of the toe is bent downward. It commonly affects either the second, third or fourth toe. When a hammer toe first develops it is still very flexible, and during the initial stages it can still be bent back to its normal position. If the toe is not treated it could become rigid and require surgery for correction.
A common sign first seen to indicate the symptoms of a hammer toe is a corn on the top of the toes. Hammer toes are one of the most painful foot conditions because when the toe is pushed up it causes the toe to press against the top of the shoe, and while the end of the toe is pushing on the ground at every strike, causing the toe to become flat,and developing a corn on the bottom of that toe as well.
A common cause of hammer toes is the wearing of improperly fit shoes. Wearing high heels that are narrow at the toe tend to push the toes back into an abnormal position. For some people the hammer toes can be a hereditary condition or they may be the result of weaker small muscles in the foot.