Hammer toes are due to a muscular imbalance between the muscles on the top and the bottom of the toes which cause deviation of the digits. The toes help to stabilize the foot during walking.
Diagnosis is made by obtaining x-rays to check the structure of the foot and toes and also moving the toes through their range of motion and checking for flexibility of the joints. A skin exam is also performed to check for overriding callous formation on the top or tips of the toe.
Conservative treatment consists of padding and over the counter topical pain creams. If the toe has a flexible contracture than an in-office procedure through a stab incision can be made to straighten the toe with 1 suture for closure, and you are in a shoe the next day. If the contracture of the toe is rigid then a procedure to straighten the toe is required and needs 4-6 weeks to heal properly.