Help for Hurting Hammer Toes


Although most people can easily recognize a hammer toe by its telltale bent shape, at NY Foot Health we find patients are more interested in how to relieve the pain and discomfort caused by them. Hammer toes form as the result of a muscle imbalance in the toes. This abnormal imbalance puts pressure on tendons and joints of the toes leading to the contracting. There are several possible causes of hammer toe:

  • Heredity—for some people the tendency toward this abnormal imbalance is genetic

  • Trauma or injury to the toe

  • Arthritis

  • Improper footwear—wearing shoes that are too tight can squeezes toes together and can form them out of place

A Progressive Problem

Hammer toes left untreated will only get worse. In fact, most cases of hammertoe start out as Flexible Hammer Toes, meaning the toe or toes are still flexible at the joint and can be moved back into proper alignment. At this point, the foot doctor has several potential treatment options, including:

When the condition is allowed to progress to the point where the tendons have become inflexible and tight and the joint is immobilized, it’s called Rigid Hammer Toe. At this point the only way to re-align the toe is through surgery. For this reason, it’s important that you make an appointment with your podiatrist to evaluate your toe as soon as you notice it bending out of place. If you don’t have a podiatrist, use our online directory to locate a qualified one in your community.

Hammer Toe Prevention

The best way to prevent hammer toes is by choosing appropriate footwear. Look for styles with these features:

  • Heel heights of less than 2 inches

  • Roomy toe boxes that are not pointy

  • Good arch support

If the podiatrist has prescribed an orthotic device for another foot problem, be sure to wear it as directed.

To learn more about common foot problems and how to prevent them, contact us.