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What Is A Hammertoe?


A hammertoe is a deformity that causes your toe to bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward. This deformity can affect any toe on your foot. It most often affects the second or third toe. Although a hammertoe may be present at birth, it usually develops over time due to arthritis or wearing ill-fitting shoes, such as tight, pointed heels. In most cases, a hammertoe condition is treatable.

Image of Hammertoe, Socal Foot Ankle Doctors, Hammertoe Deformity

What Causes A Hammertoe To Form? 

Your toe contains two joints that allow it to bend at the middle and bottom. A hammertoe occurs when the middle joint becomes flexed or bent downward.

  • a traumatic toe injury
  • arthritis
  • an unusually high foot arch
  • wearing shoes that don’t fit properly
  • tightened ligaments or tendons in the foot
  • pressure from a bunion, which is when your big toe points inward toward your second toe Spinal cord or peripheral nerve damage may cause all of your toes to curl downward.

Signs And Symptoms Of Hammertoe

A hammertoe causes you discomfort when you walk. It can also cause you pain when you try to stretch or move the affected toe or those around it. Hammertoe symptoms may be mild or severe.

  • a toe that bends downward
  • corns or calluses
  • difficulty walking
  • inability to flex your foot or wiggle your toes
  • claw-like toes

Arthritis Of The Big Toe Treatment

The severity of your condition determines the treatment options for a hammertoe.

  • Treatment For Mild Hammertoe

You can correct a hammertoe caused by inappropriate footwear by wearing properly fitting shoes. If a high arch caused the condition, wearing toe pads or insoles in your shoes can help. These pads work by shifting your toe’s position, which relieves pain and corrects the appearance of your toe.

Shop for shoe insoles.

You can usually use over-the-counter (OTC) cushions, pads, or medications to treat bunions and corns. However, if they’re painful or if they cause your toes to become deformed, your doctor may opt to surgically remove them.

Don’t pop any blisters on your toes. Popping blisters can cause pain and infection. Use OTC creams and cushions to relieve pain and keep blisters from rubbing against the inside of your shoes.

Gently stretching your toes can also help relieve pain and reposition the affected toe.

  • Treatment For A Severe Hammertoe

If you’re unable to flex your toe, hammertoe surgery is the only option to restore movement. Surgery can reposition the toe, remove deformed or injured bone, and realign your tendons and joints. Hammertoe Surgery is normally done on an outpatient basis, so you can return home on the day of your surgery.

Our Board Certified Podiatrists

Socal Foot and Ankle doctors are committed to delivering the most exceptional treatments.

Image of Dr. Arash Hassid,DPM, Socal Foot Ankle Doctors, Podiatrist Los Angeles
Arash R. Hassid, DPM

Board Certified Foot & Ankle Specialist

Office Time

Location: Santa Monica

Mon – Thur: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Location Marina Del Rey

Mon – Thur: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Location: Cedars Sinai

Mon – Thur: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Image of doctor Daniel L. Altchuler, DPM , Socal Foot Ankle Doctors
Daniel L. Altchuler, DPM

Board Certified Foot & Ankle Specialist

Office Time

Location: Santa Monica

Mon – Thur: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Image of doctors in operation theatre, Socal foot Ankle Doctors, Podiatrist Los Angeles


  • Comprehensive Treatment of Foot & Ankle Conditions in the Pediatric, Adult & Geriatric population
  • 3 Practice Locations Santa Monica Medical Plaza, Cedars Sinai Medical Towers, & UCLA Health in Marina Del Rey
  • On Staff with Providence Saint Johns Health Center &Cedars Sinai Medical Center

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