In general, the term “hammer toe” describes a buckling of any of the toe joints. Joints at the end or middle of the toe, as well as the joint near the ball of the foot, may be affected.  With this common foot health problem, the toe becomes bent or curled in a downward direction. Hammertoes can vary in their degree of severity and in the number of joints and toes involved.

Common Causes

Toe joints can curl when the muscles become imbalanced. If they stay curled for an extended amount of times, they can become fixed in that position. Several common causes of the muscles imbalance include:

  • Toe Injury
  • Genetics
  • Arthritis
  • Tightened Tendons
  • Muscle and/or Never Damage
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight, small, or pointy.

Signs & Symptoms

The obvious sign of hammertoes is the bent, curled appearance of the joint pain. However, deformity often involves toe pain, redness, and swelling. It can also include the following symptoms:

  • Painful Corns
  • Calluses
  • Difficulty Walking

Types of Hammertoes

Hammer toes may be flexible or rigid, depending on the joint’s ability to move. A flexible joint may become more rigid as you age.

A Flexible Joint

You can straighten a flexible hammer toe with your fingers. Although they look painful, flexible hammer toes may not hurt.

A Rigid Joint

A rigid hammertoe cannot be moved, even with the fingers. Rigid joints may cause pain and distort foot movement. This may put extra stress on the ball of the foot causing a callus (a corn on the bottom of the foot).


Physical Exam
At Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center we’ll examine all your toes, testing whether or not buckled joints can be moved. Your feet will also be checked for any skin changes. Corns (a build up of dead skin cells) often form between curled toes or on top of buckled joints where shoes rub. If irritated, corns may turn into open wounds and become infected.
X-Rays may be taken of a curled toe to show the amount of deformity. An x-ray may also show whether or not the joint is affected by arthritis.

Treatment Options

Hammertoes can be very painful. Our experienced podiatrists will first discuss conservative care for this condition. This form of treatment can involve wearing wider shoes or shoe gear modifications with cushions and/or pads. Orthotics may also help prevent the hammertoes from becoming worse.

If the hammertoes are painful or becoming more curled, we will discuss surgical options to correct the deformity. With newer surgical techniques, we can get people back into regular shoes faster. The best part is the procedure is relatively painless and has a quick recovery period.

Quality Care for Hammertoes

If you are suffering from hammertoes, or want to prevent the condition from worsening, getting the proper foot care is important. Our experienced podiatrist will carefully evaluate your condition to ensure you get the best treatment for your feet. Schedule an appointment at our Long Beach office today.