Helping Treat Hammertoes


One of the more common foot ailments is something called a hammertoe. What is a hammertoe? A hammertoe is when the second, third or fourth toe abnormally bends at the first or second joint.

Hammertoes may be painful, but do not have to be.

Causes of a hammertoe include:

  • Tight shoes – poor fitting shoes put pressure on the toes and can cause them to bend

  • Trauma – damage to the bone structure or other parts of the foot

  • Abnormal toe muscles – toe muscles which pull tightly can push the toes joints to bend

  • High foot arch – puts pressure on the toes to compensate for itself

  • Bunion – caused by the big toes bending inward

  • Arthritis – joint damage can cause the toes to bend

Risk factors for a hammertoe include:

  • Age – the older you are the more likely you are to develop hammertoe

  • Family history – bone structure can be passed from family member to family member

  • Sex – women are more apt to develop a hammertoe due to their shoes

  • Toe length – the longer the toe the more likely it will bend at the joint

How to treat a hammertoe is best determined by your podiatrist. They are trained to diagnose and apply treatment as needed. Not all people have the same reason for a hammertoe so letting a podiatrist look at your feet is very important.

Treatments include:

  • Roomier footwear – your footwear needs to have adequate room for your toes to flex and move

  • Orthotics – custom designed shoe inserts can take the pressure off your toes especially if you have a high arch

  • Toe exercises – exercises like picking up marbles or just flexing the toes can help

  • Surgery – used in the more dramatic cases, surgery can reposition the toes, reduce stress caused by overly tight ligaments and tendons and remove the deformed bone. Usually done as outpatient.

If you have it or suspect you are developing a hammertoe, make an appointment to see your podiatrist at Laurel Podiatry. We have many treatments for all types of conditions including shockwave and mls laser therapy, stem cell therapy, surgery, neuropathic pain management, in house x-rays and auto-immunizations among others. If you have any questions about your feet, contact us at one of our 4 offices in Greensburg, Somerset, Mount Pleasant or Shayside, PA and make an appointment with Dr. Shawn P. Echard, DPM at 724-832-7880.