A hammertoe is a contracture of one or both joints in the toes. This abnormal bending can create pain and irritation when wearing shoes and cause a build up of corns (calluses) on or around the affected toe(s).

The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle/tendon imbalance. This imbalance results from mechanical changes in the foot that occurs over time. Hammertoes are often aggravated by shoes that don’t fit properly and in some cases even worsen the contracture. Occasionally a hammertoe is caused by trauma, such as a previously broken toe. And in some people it is an inherited trait.

Hammertoes usually start out as mild deformities and get progressively worse over time. Changes in shoe wear and using an orthotic device to improve imbalance may reduce irritation. Also splints or straps may be applied to help realign the bent toes. If affected toes are not responding to conservative treatments and have become more rigid, there are surgical options available. The longer treatment and/or surgery is delayed in a symptomatic foot, the greater the amount of deformity that develops, and the more complicated the situation becomes. Patients who seek treatment early tend to have a greater satisfaction in their outcome. We suggest you see one of our doctors to evaluate your condition.