Toe joint, hammer toes

Can Hammertoes be Corrected

For most people, having healthy feet or toes is not their major wellness priority until they experience a life-threatening foot illness that disrupts movement or reduces their quality of life. However, many podiatric problems may arise due to heredity, and others may occur due to self-inflicted activities, such as wearing ill-fitting fashionable shoes.

Hammertoe is a major toe illness affecting many people; almost half of them undergo surgery. Below, we explore how to identify and treat hammertoes in Saratoga Springs, UT.

What is a Hammertoe?

Hammertoe is a health issue that makes the joint of your second, third, or fourth toe stuck in an ascending position, resembling a hammer. It is also called a contracted toe.

This illness can cause pain and challenges in your movement, which may lead to callus forming on top of the joint. In addition, the joint will be rigid, and you will experience severe pain with swelling.

Types of Hammertoes

There are three significant types of hammertoes:

  • Rigid hammertoes: This type of hammertoe will tighten the soft tissues in your toes and tendons, limiting movement.
  • Flexible hammertoes: A flexible hammertoe is still growing, and your afflicted toe will still have mobility.
  • Semi-rigid hammertoe: This type of hammertoe is starting to become stiff.

Causes of Hammertoe

Typically, irregular muscle balance in your toes may cause high pressure on your middle joint or tendon, leading to hammertoes. Some causes for this imbalance include:

Poor footwear

Hammertoe is a condition in which the joint of your second, third, or fourth toe becomes stuck in an ascending position, resembling a hammer. It’s also known as a contracted toe.

This illness will cause pain and difficulty moving, and a callus may form on top of your joint. Furthermore, the joint will be rigid, and you will experience severe pain and swelling.


Your ancestors can predispose you to develop hammertoe. For example, if your foot has high arches, the tendon can overpower your flexors and cause a hammertoe.

Neuromuscular illness

Hammertoes are more likely to develop if you have a neuromuscular disease. Furthermore, people with diabetes are more likely to develop complications, particularly if they have weak blood vessels and contaminated lesions, which can result in the loss of their feet if their footwear is not modified.


Seldom trauma on your toe can lead to you developing a hammertoe.

Symptoms of Hammertoes

The following are some of the symptoms of hammertoes:

  • Your toe joint is becoming stiff.
  • Joint swelling
  • Pain on the top of your warped toe
  • Pain in your deep toe box
  • Burning feelings or sensations, inflammation, and redness
  • Constant pain when you move your toe joints.
  • Sores on your toes
  • When your toe is unable to lie flat

How are Hammertoes Examined?

Your doctor will usually perform physical examinations and tests to determine whether your toe joint is stiff or flexible. The data will allow the doctor to decide on the best treatment for your condition.

Furthermore, the doctor can confirm the treatment via an X-ray test of your bone structures.

Patients with diabetes or decreased sensation in their feet may require additional tests to determine whether a neurological problem caused the tendon imbalance.

How are Hammertoes Treated?

Severe hammertoes are typically treated with surgery and, in some cases, non-invasive methods.

Non-invasive treatment

When your hammertoes are not severe, you will be recommended to use the following non-invasive solutions.

Shoe adjustments or changes

Your doctor will advise you to stop wearing thin, tight, high-heeled footwear to prevent further damage to your toe muscles. Typically, your footwear should be one inch longer than your longest toe. In addition, wearing shoes such as sandals can help when they do not cause discomfort to your feet.


Specific exercises will help you stretch and strengthen the muscles in your feet. Your doctor may advise you to manually stretch your toes by picking up items on the floor with your toes.

They may also advise towel curls to strengthen your toes. To do towel curls, place a towel flat beneath your foot and squeeze it with your toes.

Over-the-counter medicine

Some commercial remedies can help you relieve pain. If you have diabetes and your feet are numb or stiff, you should consult your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medication.

Surgical treatment

When your toe becomes stiff and you cannot move it, or when non-surgical treatment fails to relieve your symptoms, your doctor will recommend surgery, which is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. However, the surgical procedure will differ depending on the type and severity of the muscle imbalance. Among the surgical treatments are:

Tendon widening and transfer

The tendons that cause the imbalance in patients with flexible toe joints can be lengthened. Furthermore, tendons can be transferred from the base of the toe to the upper to help stretch the joint into the correct position in patients with moving toe joints.


Patients with stiff toe joints may benefit from tendon widening and joint fusion. It is known as “joint fusion.” During this procedure, your doctor will remove a small bone fragment from your joint to allow the toe to extend fully. They may also insert something to hold the bones together while they fuse.

Looking for a Foot and Ankle Health Clinic in Saratoga Springs, UT? Contact us today

Feet and pain, such as hammertoes, can occur at any age. Because of the appearance of the affected toe, hammer toes cause discomfort and are one of the leading causes of foot insecurity among people. It usually makes your feet resemble the head of a hammer.

Hammertoes are usually treated through surgery or non-invasive methods. If you start experiencing symptoms, contact your doctor immediately for hammertoe treatment options!

We are proud to offer you one-of-a-kind services to restore your foot health at Rogers Foot & Ankle Institute. Our friendly foot and ankle surgeons have years of experience and skills to help you get back on your feet— To make an appointment, please call 801-756-4200.

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