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What is a hammertoe?

A hammertoe forms when the first joint of the digit, called the "proximal interphalangeal joint", becomes bent. This condition most commonly affects the second through fifth toes.  Hammertoes can be caused by a number of reasons including: heredity, trauma, arthritis, and wearing "too tight" shoes.

How are hammertoes fixed?

Hammertoes can be either flexible or rigid.  When hammertoes are flexible, they are still in the developmental stage and can be diagnosed and treated.  Flexible hammertoes can be remedied by use of a hammertoe pad or tape, wearing shoes with a deep toe box, avoiding shoes with a heel higher than two inches, and avoiding wearing shoes that are too tight or too narrow.

Rigid hammertoes can be seen in patients with severe arthritis or those who have waited too long to seek professional treatment for the issue. The course of treatment for a rigid hammertoe is typically surgery due to the joint being misaligned and immobile.  If surgery becomes necessary, the procedure entails removing the bony prominence to restore proper alignment of the toe joint.  Hardware may or may not be placed during the surgical procedure, depending on the severity and/or rigidity of the hammertoe.  Each patient is different, so it is important to discuss these specificities with Dr. Weiss should you have any questions or concerns.

Is there a way to prevent hammertoe formation?

  • Wear supportive shoes at all times to prevent these deformities

  • Custom-made orthotic devices (if prescribed by Dr. Weiss) to help slow the progression or prevent the development of hammer toes

  • Avoid wearing narrow or tight shoes that put too much pressure on the toes