Help for Hammertoes


At first, it may just look like one of your toes is bending a little in the middle. What starts out as a mild deformity, however, will get progressively worse over time. Eventually, the bend will become more severe and increasingly rigid and difficult to straighten. This is a condition known as hammertoe, and one that we at Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle, treat fairly often.

What Causes a Hammertoe?

Hammertoe can occur in one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toe. In addition to the appearance of the toe, patients with hammertoe will experience irritation from their footwear, including redness, burning, inflammation and even open sores. Corns and calluses may also form on the affected toe.

Most often, hammertoe is the result of a muscle/tendon imbalance. Mechanical or neurological changes in the foot can cause the imbalance. It may also be the result of an injury to the toe or a disease such as arthritis or a stroke. Wearing high heels or shoes that are too tight can aggravate the condition and speed its progression.

Treatment Options

If you suspect you have a hammertoe developing, it’s essential that you seek care promptly. Our podiatrist, Dr. Lawrence J. Kales, will want to examine your toe and get a complete medical history from you. X-rays may also be done to determine the severity and progression of the deformity. Once the foot doctor has diagnosed your hammertoe, the appropriate treatment plan can be decided upon.

Conservative treatment options are the first choice, and these may include:

  • Medication—oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation. Corticosteroid injections may also be used to relieve symptoms.

  • Footwear modifications—the podiatrist will want you to go through your shoe wardrobe and only wear styles that are the proper size, with a roomy, wide toe box and heels that are less than 2 inches high.

  • Orthotic devices—a custom orthotic to be worn in your shoe can help correct or control the muscle/tendon imbalance.

  • Splinting or straps—these may be used in an attempt to straighten the bent toe and realign it to the proper position.

  • Padding—if you have developed corns or calluses, padding can help protect them from further irritation.

If these options fail to work or the hammertoe has become too rigid, surgery may be the best option. The sooner you seek treatment the better. Contact our Spring Hill (352 683-5799) or Hudson (727-868-2128) office in nature coast, Florida today for an appointment.