The Hammertoe Questions You've Always Wanted to Ask

What is a hammertoe?

A hammertoe occurs when the middle joint of a toe is bent, giving it the appearance of a hammer. There is usually severe planes of dislocation, depending on severity.  


Which toes does this affect?

A hammertoe occurs in the lesser toes, 2 through 5.


How did I develop a hammer toe?

Hammertoes result from a muscle imbalance between the two sides of the joint. This could be a biomechanical issue you were born with or even a tight calf muscle, known as equinus.   If the toe is bent and held in one position long enough, the muscles tighten and cannot stretch out.


Does it hurt?

Not all hammertoes hurt, but the misaligned joint can cause pressure on the top of the toe when wearing certain shoes. This can lead to rubbing, calluses, and pain.  This can also lead to pain in the ball of the foot due to tearing of the tissues or pressure on the nerves.


Will it go away?

A hammertoe will not disappear without treatment.  When they are flexible, they can be splinted for comfort.


Does it really need to be fixed?

Not all hammertoes need surgery. Generally, if they cause regular pain, treatment should be sought.  An important fact to consider is that the recovery and intervention for rigid, longstanding deformities is more significant.


What are my treatment options?

Conservative treatment starts with new accommodative shoes that have soft, roomy toe boxes. Shoes should be at least one-half inch longer than your longest toe. Avoid wearing tight, narrow, high-heeled shoes. Your doctor may recommend that you use commercially available straps, cushions, or non-medicated corn pads to relieve symptoms. Surgical correction is available for severe cases.


There are many options that can temporarily relieve issues from hammertoes before surgery is needed. Call the FAAWC today to fix your hammertoe!