Published by: Ted Yan August 21, 2020

A hammertoe is a bending of the toe at the first joint of the toe, called the proximal interphalangeal joint, making the toes bend like the head of a hammer. This is caused by an imbalance between the muscles and tendons in the toes and can occur in any toe, but usually affects the second through fifth toes. Hammertoes are more common in women than men.

Hammertoes can be made worse with ill-fitting shoes. It may also be inherited or caused by an injury to the foot. A podiatrist can help diagnose and treat hammertoe with either surgical or nonsurgical approaches. Nonsurgical treatment options include changing footwear, medication to reduce swelling, splints to reposition the toes, and orthotic padding help prevent toes from rubbing against each other.

Your podiatrist may also recommend custom orthotics, to help reduce symptoms and prevent the worsening of the hammertoe deformity.

Severe hammertoes, which are not fully reducible, may require more complex surgical procedures.