Hammertoes occur when there is a bend or contracture at the small joints at the toes. This can affect some or all of the toes including the big toes. The contracture can cause the toes to rub on shoes, cause sores on the tips of the toes, cross over other toes or even cause pain in the ball of the foot. The toe is made of 3 joints. At each joint the toe can bend and cause a different type of hammertoe.

The toe can be bent at the joint near the nail. This is called a mallet toe. The toe can be sore on top where the joint is bent or at the tip pf the toe which is now coming in contact with the ground. This can even feel like an ingrown toenail because the nail is being pushed back into the skin by the ground.

The toe can be bent and the joint near the ball of the foot. This causes pain behind the toes. Calluses are frequently seen on the bottom of the foot. The long bone behind the toe (called metatarsal) is being pushed down as the toe is bending up. This created pressure under the metatarsal bone leading to pain and callus formation.

The toe can be bent at the middle joint. Mostly, the pain is located at the top of the toe where the toe rubs on the shoes. This can cause redness, swelling, blisters, corns and even ulcerations. This is the most common type of hammertoe.

The toe can be bent at all 3 joints and this is referred to a swan neck deformity. This tends to be a rigid type of hammertoe. This means that you can not physically straighten the toe manually.

All types of hammertoes can be treated conservatively. Through padding, change in shoe gear, trimming of the corns or calluses, orthotics can be useful in reducing the pain associated with the hammertoes. Nothing short of surgery can permanently straighten the toe but the toe does not need to be straight in order to get rid of the pain.

Hammertoe is a generic term that encompasses any toe deformity. Come in and let us evaluate your hammertoe and pick the best option for you. We have 5 locations and convenient hours. Call 877-905-5907 today!

Alexandra K. Grulke, DPM, FACFAS, CWS
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Trained in all aspects of podiatry, with special focus in pediatrics and foot/ankle reconstructive surgery