Hammertoe Overview



What is a hammertoe? A hammertoe is the bending of one or both joints in the toe resulting in the toe(s) being bent into a claw-like position that resembles a hammer. Hammertoe can be present in more than one toe but and is often found in the second toe. What causes hammertoes? Hammertoes can form from an unusually long second toe that is continually squeezed into shoes or crowded by a bunion on the big toe. Other causes of hammertoes may include muscle weakness or arthritis. However, the most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle/tendon imbalance which leads to the bending of the toe. Corns often develop on the hammertoe from the rubbing of shoes and hammertoes can also cause calluses on the bottom of the toe or the ball of the foot. In addition, hammertoes often cause pain and irritation when wearing shoes and people with untreated hammertoes may have difficulty finding comfortable shoes. Since hammertoes tend to get progressively worse over time and can become rigid without treatment, it is important to see a podiatrist for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Please visit one of BeverlyHillsPhysicians.com Podiatry offices in the following convenient locations: Beverly Hills, Encino, Thousand Oaks, Valencia, Pasadena, Long Beach and Oxnard.

Hammertoe Treatment may include:

  • Wearing proper footwear. Do not wear high heels or any shoes that force your toes into a cramped position. Avoid pointed shoes. Choose shoes with toe boxes with plenty of room.
  • Treatment of corns and calluses. Only your podiatrist should trim your corns and calluses. In addition, your podiatrist can provide pads that protect corns from irritation.
  • Splinting. A splint may be applied to the hammertoe to hold the toe in its natural position.
  • Massage Therapy. Massage therapy may be useful to decrease the tightness of the hammertoe.
  • Surgery. If detected early, a hammertoe can be treated without surgery. In advanced cases, hammertoe surgery may be needed. Your podiatrist will advise you on treatment options that best meets your needs.

If you notice any of your toes in an unnatural position, it is important to see a podiatrist.

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