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Oh, No! It’s Hammertoe!

Although the name sounds more like a rejected Batman villain than a serious podiatric ailment, hammertoes can cause a wide variety of problems.

Hammertoe occurs when one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toes bend, putting additional pressure on your toes while wearing shoes and causing problems to develop.

This condition usually starts out as mild deformity, but can get progressively worse over time if left untreated. In the earlier stages, hammertoes are flexible and the symptoms can often be managed with noninvasive measures.

Types of Hammertoes

Flexible hammertoes: If the toe still can be moved at the joint, it’s a flexible hammertoe. This is an earlier, milder form of the condition with several treatment options available.

Rigid hammertoes: If the tendons in the toe become rigid, they press the joint out of alignment. In this situation, the toe can no longer be moved and surgery will most likely be required to remedy the situation.


The most common cause of hammertoe is a muscle/tendon imbalance. This muscle imbalance puts a lot of pressure on the toe’s tendons and joints, which forces the toe into a hammerhead shape for which the condition is aptly named.

Hammertoes can also be aggravated by shoes that don’t fit properly as your toes are forced into a cramped position. For this reason, women are more likely to get pain associated with hammertoes than men because of their shoes.

Other causes also include:

– Genetics

– Arthritis

– Injury


If one of your toes suddenly resembles the Gateway Arch, then there’s a good chance you have hammertoe. If you hope to identify the condition before it becomes painfully obvious, remain aware of any pain felt at the top of your toes when putting on your shoes. Additionally, there will also likely be swelling and redness that’s getting progressively worse around the area in question.

Other symptoms also include:

– Difficulty moving your toe

– Corns forming at the top of the toe

– Pain on the ball of the foot under your bent toe


If you believe you are suffering from any of the aforementioned symptoms, you should contact your local doctor or podiatrist immediately as hammertoe typically requires medical attention.

There are several treatment options for hammertoe based on how severe the condition has become. The sooner you seek treatment, the more options you will have. An oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen, may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation if the condition does not require surgery. A podiatrist may also have you fitted for a custom orthotic device in order to better control the muscle/tendon imbalance.

In some cases, typically when dealing with a rigid hammertoe, surgery is needed.

Follow Delray Beach Podiatry on Twitter @Delray_Podiatry

The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:


16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33445



8198 Jog Road #100, Boynton Beach, FL 33472



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