Understanding Hammertoes | Dolly Stelzer, DPM

Understanding Hammertoes



A hammertoe is a foot deformity that occurs due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. The toe oftentimes resembles a claw-like shape and can produce significant discomfort and pain. It can be caused by the type of shoes you wear, your foot structure, trauma, and certain disease processes. The most common complaint is rubbing and irritation at the top of the middle knuckle joint of the toe, especially when wearing enclosed shoes.


  • Pain in the affected toes
  • Development of corns on the top of the joint
  • Joint Swelling and/or Redness
  • Pain in the ball of the foot under the bent toe


Certain Diseases – Arthritis and diabetes may make you more likely to develop a hammertoe

Trauma – Direct trauma to the toes could potentially lead to hammertoe

Genetics – People who are genetically predisposed to hammertoe are often more susceptible

Ill-fitting shoes – Narrow or tight fitting shoes may caused the toes to bend to fit into the shoe

Foot structure – Having high arches or bunions may make you more prone to developing a hammertoe


Most conservative treatments are geared towards relief of pain. If you have a hammertoe, there are certain things that you can do before heading to your podiatrist. It is recommended that you wear a comfortable shoe that provides enough room for your toes. Protective toe pads and anti-inflammatories or NSAIDS are also other viable options that can provide comfort.

If your toe pain persists, you may want to have your hammertoe looked at by one of our podiatrists at Physicians Footcare.

Your options with us range from custom orthotics or inserts to relieve the pressure placed on the toes to a corticosteroid injection to even possibly surgery. It is important to seek assistance from a podiatrist in order to determine which treatment option will work best for you.

If you have any questions please contact Physicians Footcare.

Dolly Stelzer, DPM

Physicians Footcare, South Carolina