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What is a Hammertoe?

Hammertoe is a contracture (bending) of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth, or fifth (pinky) toes. Ligaments and tendons of the toe are tightened, which causes the joint to buckle and appear slightly deformed. This abnormal bending of the toe is created by ‘jamming’ of bones in toe joints, and is considered one of the most common foot deformities. It can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, causing problems to develop. Treatment options vary based on a patients severity and symptoms.

Hammertoes are progressive—they do not go away by themselves and will typically get worse over time. However, not all cases are alike—some hammertoes progress more rapidly than others.


What causes Hammertoe?

  • Injury

  • Age

  • Wearing shoes that are too tight or high heels that crowd the toes

  • Muscle imbalance due to other neuromuscular diseases, such as diabetes

  • Tightness of ligaments and tendons due to other foot deformities, including bunion, flatfoot, high arch foot, etc.

What are the symptoms of Hammertoe?

  • A callus can develop in the ball of the foot or top of your joint

  • Infection

  • Visible bending of the toe

  • Diabetics may develop an ulcer which can lead to a digital (toe) amputation

  • Joint in your toe that’s getting rigid

  • Redness, inflammation, or burning sensation

  • Restricted or painful motion of your toe joint

How do you treat Hammertoe?

Conservative treatment options are utilized to reduce symptoms and improve functionality in daily life, such as:

  • Shoes with a larger toe box

  • Limiting the use of high heels, especially ones with pointed toes

  • Applying creams to soften calluses

  • Custom orthotics to improve support and stability of your feet

  • Wearing soft pads over symptomatic areas of corns or calluses

  • Using toe crest pads to relieve pressure on the tip of the toe

In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary, including:

  • Shaving or removing bone

  • Joint fusion

  • Releasing joint capsules

  • Inserting pins or implants

  • Cutting, lengthening or transferring of tendons

Give us a call at 305-564-3810, or click "Request Appointment" and a staff member will contact you within 24 hours to schedule your appointment with Dr. Leonardo Zayas-Bazan.

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