Hammer Toe

A hammertoe is a deformity in the middle joint of your toe, usually in your middle three toes.
Hammertoe Specialists

Hammer Toe

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If left untreated, hammertoes can eventually become so stiff, they lead to foot pain on a regular basis. Before your hammertoe worsens, schedule an evaluation at The Foot Doctors of Santa Cruz County to see how the skilled podiatrists can help. With a location in Watsonville and Santa Cruz, California, you have an office nearby. Book your hammertoe exam by requesting an appointment online or by calling your closest office.

Hammer Toe Q & A

What causes hammertoes?

A hammertoe is a deformity in the middle joint of your toe, usually in your middle three toes. They often develop because you have a toe that is too long and it regularly gets pushed in, due to snug-fitting footwear.

This causes muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your toe to get “stuck” in an upward bent position. If these soft tissues are regularly forced into this position, over time, they stay that way – permanently.

While hammertoe issues most often affect women, due to wearing shoes that have little wiggle room in the toes, men can develop them, too. Plus, you’re more likely to have a hammertoe if you:

  • Have arthritis or diabetes
  • Previously had a toe injury
  • Have an abnormal balance in your toe muscles

You can even develop a similar condition in the joint that’s closest to your toenail. This deformity is known as a mallet toe and it’s treated the same way as a hammertoe.

Do hammertoes cause symptoms?

They can, although it can take some time for hammertoes to start causing pain or discomfort. Initially, hammertoes tend to be flexible and can flatten out either after you take your shoes off or by stretching your toe. Eventually, though, hammertoes can become rigid, meaning you can’t move your toe at the joint anymore. In either case, common symptoms of hammertoes include:

  • Limited toe flexibility
  • Corns over the top of the affected toe
  • Calluses along the bottom of the hammertoe
  • Pain, swelling, or discomfort throughout your toe and foot

It’s never too early or too late to start treatment for hammertoes at The Foot Doctors of Santa Cruz County.

What is the treatment for a hammertoe?

Your hammertoe treatment plan depends on the severity of your symptoms. Usually, though, it’s best to try several solutions that can include:

  • Custom orthotics
  • Padding, taping, or strapping
  • Specialized exercises
  • Physical therapy
  • Cortisone injections

If your condition isn’t getting any better – or if it’s getting worse – your dedicated podiatrist at The Foot Doctors of Santa Cruz County may suggest hammertoe surgery. This minimally invasive procedure involves removing damaged tissue, straightening your joint, and releasing stiff connective tissues (if needed).

Schedule your hammertoe appointment at The Foot Doctors of Santa Cruz County by clicking on the online scheduling feature, or by calling your nearby location.