Help for Hurting Hammertoes


Although most people recognize a hammertoe by its telltale bent shape, they may not know much about what causes this condition or, more importantly, how to treat it. At FL Foot Health, our goal is to educate patients so that they can enjoy better podiatric health. Here are some facts about hammertoes.

Hammertoes usually affect the second, third, fourth or fifth toe on the foot and are more common in women than men. There are two types of hammertoes:

Rigid—this type of hammertoe is much more serious. In patients with rigid hammertoes the tendons have become tight and the joint is misaligned and immobile. This is often the case with patients who have severe arthritis or who have waited too long to seek treatment. Unfortunately, in most cases, the only treatment for rigid hammertoes is surgery.

Flexible—these are hammertoes that are diagnosed in their early stages. The toe is still flexible and moveable at the joint. Flexible hammertoes are much easier to treat. For this reason, it’s important that you see a podiatrist as soon as you notice any signs that your toe is bending downward. If you don’t have a podiatrist, we can help you find one in your area through our online directory.

Treatment Options

For flexible hammertoes the podiatrist may prescribe one or more of the following treatments:

Medication—anti-inflammatory drugs and cortisone injections can be used to ease acute pain and inflammation.

Padding and Taping—this may change the imbalance of the toes and thereby relieve stress and pain.

Custom Orthotic Devices—these shoe inserts made from a mold of your foot can be used to control foot function and movement. This can prevent or slow the progression of the hammertoe.

There are also some steps that you can take our your own. Mostly, they involve your footwear choices. Look for shoes with a deep and roomy toe box and avoid heels over two inches high. Get your feet measured periodically to ensure that you are wearing the correct size. Shoe size can change as you age.

To learn more about hammertoe and other podiatric conditions, contact us.