A hammertoe is a toe with a joint permanently buckled downward. It may be flexible or stiff, and may occur on any toe. Hammertoes occur when abnormalities in the function of the foot cause ligaments and tendons to tighten. This results in the toe’s joints bending, cocking the toe upward.
Pain from hammertoes usually occurs when shoes rub on the prominent portion of the toe. The result is inflammation and possibly corns, calluses or ulceration.
Early on in the process of forming a hammertoe, the toe remains flexible, and will straighten when pressure is applied to the buckled area. As time passes, the toe can become permanently contracted and rigid. Painful calluses on the bottom of the foot may accompany rigid hammertoes because of increased pressure generated on the joint due to the contracted toe.
Our goal is always to treat without surgery if at all possible. We are able to provide conservative treatment for hammertoes in a majority of cases. This can involve:
- Wearing supportive orthotics in shoes. This helps relieve pressure on toe deformities and allows the toes and major joints of the foot to function more appropriately.
- Wearing shoes with more room in the toe box.
- Splints or small straps to realign the toe.
- Trimming or padding corns and calluses.
Conservative treatments do not straighten the toe or correct the deformity. They can, however, relieve pain. In cases where conservative treatment fails, the toes can be straightened surgically. Surgical solutions are usually very effective, but to ensure the best outcomes, it is important that you choose the right surgeon and that the surgeon performs the appropriate procedure. For more information, visit our surgical solutions page.
Don’t live with toe pain. If you are experiencing symptoms: call today for an appointment in our convenient Seattle office.