Stop! Hammertoes

Do your toes hurt all of the time? Even when wearing loose fitting slippers, do you feel like your toes have no room to spread out? You may have hammertoes!

What are Hammertoes?

Hammertoes are a contracture or bending of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth, or fifth (little) toes. This abnormal bending can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, causing problems to develop including corns on the top of the toes and a complete misalignment of the feet. Additionally, as the toe joints continue to contract, increased pressure under the ball of the foot can lead to other foot ailments such as painful neuromas and painful calluses.


  • Pain or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes.
  • Corns (a buildup of skin) on the top, side, or end of the toe, or between two toes. They may be soft or hard, depending upon their location.
  • Calluses (another type of skin buildup) on the end of the toe or on the ball of the foot.
  • Tightness within the tendons of each toe can cause the individual toes to migrate out of position.
  • Overlapping and dislocation of the toes in severe cases.
  • Changes in the toenail due to abnormal pressure from the joint contractures.
  • Ulceration and wounds can develop from abnormal pressure.


In earlier stages, hammertoes are flexible and the symptoms can often be managed with noninvasive measures; treatment is typically directed towards pain relief by accommodations made around painful corns and calluses.

Gel pads and shoe modifications are simple measures that can offer significant pain relief.

Prescription strength creams are also effective at treating the increased skin buildup.

Tube foam toe protectors are readily available in Pharmacies and may take some pressure off your painful toes.

Try changing your shoes to wider/higher toe box shoes. Look at your shoes for increased wear problems on one side of the heel or sole.


Should this conservative self management not help make an appointment with our podiatrist immediately.

As hammertoes become more rigid, hammertoe surgery is very effective in correcting the underlying problems associated with the contracted joints. Typically, the small joints are fused into corrected position, while contractures within the associated tendons are released.

Our physicians are board certified in foot and ankle surgery and can discuss your surgical options if conservative measures have failed to give you pain relief.

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