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Hammertoes: Diagnoses, Treatment and Prevention

People may hear of hammerhead sharks during "Shark Week," but have no idea what a hammertoe is. Hammertoes can be incredibly uncomfortable and make it painful to walk. In our clinic, we treat this condition and help patients to regain their comfort and mobility.


Typically, this refers to the toe that is next to the big toe. However, it could impact the second, third or fourth toe. The hammertoe has a bend in the middle of the toe that makes it resemble the shape of a hammer. Someone wearing the improper shoes that are either too tight or too narrow will apply pressure onto the toe. This pressure will make it difficult to move, enlarge the toe and make it incredibly painful. A hammertoe may also develop large corns and calluses.


This condition needs a diagnosis by a podiatrist. However, it is typically marked by a strange band in the middle of the toe joint. Also, some patients have swelling or a physical deformity that looks like a hammer. Additionally, the corns and calluses can be an indication of the condition, as can the pain and discomfort.

Still, there can be other reasons that these symptoms are present so it is important to visit our office for an actual diagnosis.


When visiting our clinic, we will conduct a physical examination to determine how badly the toe has been impacted by the condition. We may also need to take X-rays. The results of these tests and exams will tell us what treatment methods are necessary for a patient’s particular situation. We tend to recommend the least invasive treatment methods first as long as they have a good chance of being successful.

Professional treatment allows patients to recover, even with the least invasive and most affordable manner possible. However, if non-invasive treatment options are not going to be sufficient, we will recommend treatments that include surgery. In our case, we are looking for what will be effective for helping a patient fully recover.

Treatments can include:


As with many conditions, if hammer toes are diagnosed and treated early on, there are distinct benefits to a patient. First, when they are diagnosed early, there are certain non-invasive treatments that can be applied to correct the toe and its position. This makes it possible for a patient to recover quickly and without the need for any invasive measures.

If patients take too long to visit our clinic, it is possible that the toe will harden and this new position and that surgery will be necessary for correcting it. The reason why the toe can harden in this strange position is that the muscles work to bend and move the toes. If the muscles are stretched or bent in an unnatural position, they will eventually harden there and it will be impossible for them to stretch back to where the muscles were initially.

It is similar to what happens when people do not stretch or remain in a hunched-over position and how their back then becomes permanently hunched over. In other words, it is necessary to continue stretching and to ensure that muscles remain in the proper position, even if those muscles happen to be located in the toe.

To learn more about hammer toes and how we can treat them, schedule an appointment with our clinic.

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