What is Hammertoe?

Hammertoe is a condition that causes the toes to bend downward in a hammer-like shape. The condition can affect any of the small toes and often causes pain and discomfort. Hammertoe will not go away on its own so professional treatment is needed. Dr. Peter Caldwell, the board-certified podiatrist at Iowa Foot & Ankle Clinic in Cedar Rapids, IA, treats hammertoes.

Causes of Hammertoes

One reason hammertoes occur is due to an imbalance between the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the toes. The imbalance can lead to dislocation of the toe joint, resulting in the affected toes curling up or bending at the joint rather than laying flat. Several different factors can contribute to the development of hammertoes, such as:

  • Sustaining an injury to toes or feet
  • Wearing extremely tight or narrow shoes
  • Wearing shoes without adequate arch support
  • Certain health conditions, such as arthritis, neuropathy, or diabetes
  • Having exceptionally long toes
  • A family history of hammertoe
  • Developing bunions

Symptoms of Hammertoes

Having toes that bend downward at the middle joint in the shape of a mallet or hammer is one of the main indications that hammertoe is present. Other symptoms that can develop as a result of hammertoe include:

  • Pain and discomfort
  • Stiff or rigid toe joints
  • Swelling of the toe joints
  • Diminished flexibility in the toes
  • Corns or calluses form on the toe joints
  • Pain in the ball of the foot
  • Burning sensation
  • Redness

Treatments for Hammertoes

Hammertoes do not heal on their own so it is necessary to see a foot doctor for professional treatment. The experienced podiatrist at our foot and ankle clinic in Cedar Rapids, IA, treats hammertoes using several methods. The doctor will develop a custom treatment plan based on your symptoms and needs, as well as the severity of your condition.

During the early stages of hammertoe, the affected toes often still have flexibility and can be treated with various nonsurgical methods so it is best to seek treatment early on. Left untreated, the toes could become extremely stiff and rigid over time. At that point, surgery is typically needed to correct the condition. Nonsurgical treatments for hammertoes include:

  • Toe splints or straps to realign dislocated toe joints
  • Protective padding to minimize irritation from corns and calluses
  • Custom orthotics to correct imbalances in the muscles or tendons
  • Anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal medications to reduce swelling and pain
  • Exercises for stretching and strengthening the foot muscles
  • Personalized footwear recommendations

If you have developed hammertoes, we can help. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Caldwell to discuss treatment options for hammertoes by calling Iowa Foot & Ankle Clinic in Cedar Rapids, IA, at (319) 363-3543.

Contact Us

Call for an appointment  319-363-3543

Iowa Foot & Ankle Clinic

1700 1st Ave NE Cedar Rapids, IA 52402-5433