What is a hammertoe?

A hammertoe is a deformity of the middle joint of a toe, in which the toe is bent at an angle and points downwards and almost claw-like, resembling a hammer.

It is a common condition among people who wear shoes with a tight fit, as it results from the compression of the toes or the toes being held in an unnatural position for a prolonged period of time. It is typically seen in the second toe, but can occur on any toe. Sometimes, more than one toe is affected.

How do I know I have a hammertoe?

A clear sign of a hammertoe is an obvious deformity, in which the toe is bent downward at the middle joint, resembling a hammer. Other symptoms of a hammertoe include pain and stiffness of the affected toe, especially when wearing shoes.

The toe may also be painful when touched. Over time, people with hammertoes may also develop corns on the top of the toe or calluses on the sole of the foot. As the hammertoe becomes more severe, the toe may become rigid and hard to move.

In more severe cases, the toe may become so bent that it begins to overlap with the next toe, or the toe may become so bent that it appears flattened.


What causes a hammertoe?

The most common cause of hammertoe is wearing ill-fitting shoes. Shoes that are too small or too tight can force the toes into a bent position and cause the muscles and tendons to become too tight. This condition can become permanent if the shoe continues to be worn. Another common cause of hammertoe is genetics. People who have relatives that suffer from hammertoe may be more likely to develop it themselves.

This is because certain genetic conditions can make the toes more susceptible to muscle and tendon problems which can lead to hammertoe. Additionally, some birth defects can cause the toes to be shorter or the tendons to be less flexible, which can lead to a hammertoe.

How is a hammertoe treated?

Treatment for hammertoe depends on the severity of the deformity and the amount of pain it is causing. The earlier treatment is started, the greater the chance of a successful outcome. In some cases, conservative treatments may be sufficient to relieve the pain and improve flexibility in the toes. These treatments may include changing to shoes that fit properly, using padding to protect the toes from pressure, and using orthotics to improve the toe’s alignment. If conservative treatments do not provide relief, surgery may be recommended. Surgery for hammertoe involves releasing the tendons that hold the toe in its bent position so that the toe can be straightened.

Depending on the severity of the deformity, the toe may need to be permanently held in place with pins or wires. In some cases, the toe joint may need to be fused in order to hold the toe in a straight position. After surgery, it is important to follow the post-operative instructions carefully in order to ensure a successful outcome. Patients should avoid activities that put pressure on the toes, and should wear supportive footwear that fits properly. The feet should also be kept clean and dry, and any dressings should be changed as recommended by the doctor. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help improve flexibility and strength in the toe muscles.

Clients reviews

Dr. Salvatore Gaudino is a miracle worker.  I had problems walking for more than five years, NOT any more.  I went to countless Specialists… One of the luckiest days of my life is when I made an appointment with him!  He is truly amazing.  The great office staff is welcoming.  What a great experience.  Thank you ALL!

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The staff is great, attentive and paperwork is seamlessly handled. Dr Lee is superb, friendly and goes extra steps to resolve the issue whether it’s from foot discomfort or giving insight on products. Lisa is stellar, to the point and promptly processes the  necessary paperwork.

Kenny L.

Dr. Gaudino examined my son and explained to me exactly what he needed to correct his “turned feet”, as well as showing me some exercises to relieve the tension in his feet. He was so nice and caring towards my son, and really made him feel at ease. I would definitely recommend this practice to my friends and family!

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