Background: Multiple factors may contribute to hammer toe deformity at the metatarsophalangeal joint. The purposes of this study were to (1) compare the ratio of toe extensor/flexor muscle strength in toes 2-4 among groups with and without hammer toe deformity, (2) to determine correlations between the ratio of toe extensor/flexor muscle strength in toes 2-4, and metatarsophalangeal joint deformity (3) to determine if other clinical measures differ between groups and if these measures are correlated with metatarsophalangeal joint angle. Methods: Twenty-seven feet with visible hammer toe deformity and 31 age matched feet without hammer toe deformity were tested. Toe muscle strength was measured using a dynamometer and the ratio of toe extensor muscle strength to flexor muscle strength was calculated. Metatarsophalangeal joint angle was measured from a computerized tomography image. Ankle and subtalar joint range of motion, and tibial torsion were measured using goniometry. Findings: Extensor/flexor toe muscle strength ratio was 2.3-3.0 times higher in the hammer toe group compared to the non-hammer toe group, in toes 2-4. The ratios of extensor/flexor toe muscle strength for toes 2-4 and metatarsophalangeal joint angle were highly correlated (r = 0.69 - 0.80). Ankle dorsiflexion and metatarsophalangeal joint angle were negatively correlated for toes 2-4 (r = -0.38 to -0.56) as were eversion and metatarsophalangeal joint angle. Interpretation: These results provide insight into potential risk factors for the development of hammer toe deformity. Additional research is needed to determine the causal relationship between hammer toe deformity and the ratio of toe extensor/flexor muscle strength in toes 2-4.
- Hammer toe deformity