These Things Called Hammertoes

There are a variety of curled and bunched-up positions our toes can take over the years, but one of the most common is what we call a “hammertoe”.  In this toe deformity, the toe buckles so that the knuckle in your toe that is closest to your foot is bent upward. As a result, the top of the toe joint often times rubs on the shoes and may develop a corn. The bottom of the foot may also develop pain or a callus due to a downward pressure at the joint where the toe joins the foot.


While wearing too short of shoes or flip-flops can certainly make the toes curl up sooner or perhaps worse than they would otherwise, shoes are not the only cause of hammertoes. Most often the deformity is actually a result of how your foot functions, or it’s “biomechanics”.  Your foot function is dependent on your joint alignment which was primarily decided by your genetics.

The best choice for treatment of hammertoes varies based on several considerations. Options boil down to – either change the shoe or change the toe. Shoes can be changed by finding deeper/ wider toe boxes, increasing shoe length if need be, and wearing shoes made of softer materials. Various splints or pads may also be helpful. If the toe is not stuck in bent position (what we call “rigid”), then orthotics with metatarsal pads may be helpful in preventing further deformity.

If you are having problems with your toes, I’d encourage you to make an appointment at our office to see what options would work best for you.