Hammertoe! What Causes it and How to Avoid it.


What is Hammertoe?

Hammertoe is a fairly general term that describes a deformity of the toe. A toe which is weakened by any number of factors may stick up or be misshapen around the joint. This can lead to pain and discomfort when walking or doing your favorite activities. The more severe it becomes, the more problems you'll be dealing with. At some point, you may even have to have it surgically repaired.


What Causes Hammertoe?


Hammertoe can be caused by a few different things. Let's take a look.

1. Ill-Fitting shoes

We've touched on this before, mainly in reference to a condition called bunions. Well, we're talking about it again here with hammertoe. High-heels and narrow shoes are a prime contributor to developing hammertoe. And who wears high heels and narrow shoes? That's right, the ladies.

This is why we see hammertoe in women more often than men, plain and simple. Many so-called fashionable shoes force women to do without proper arch support. They can also put undue pressure upon the toes and joints. This pressure can cause hammertoe or bunions.

2. Genetic Predisposition

It's a bummer, but sometimes you are more genetically predisposed to developing hammertoe, especially in these cases:

  • People with flat feed may "overstabilize" because of less arch support, leading to hammertoe.
  • People with higher arches may develop hammertoe because of stress upon the tendons.

Infections or Diabetic Risk

We sometimes see hammetoe develop when a patient has an infection due to decreased blood flow. This can occur in diabetics at a higher rate. If you are diabetic and develop corns or lesions upon the foot, consider seeing a specialist and changing your footwear.

Here's How To Avoid Hammertoe Surgery


Surgery is a great option if you are dealing with painful hammertoe. Why?

  • Your foot will be more aesthetically pleasing

  • Your shoes will fit better, lessening the chance of infection or pain

But you know what? You don't always have to have surgery. By making the following adjustments, you can avoid seeing me in the operating room:

Exercise the foot

This won't always take care of hammertoe, but it can prevent it from developing. Move your toes around by stretching them, curling them, and straigthening them. This can make those toe muscles stronger and less likely to develop problems.

Find Some Supportive Kicks

Shoes, shoes, shoes. The more supportive and better fit, the less likely you are to avoid hammertoe and bunions. Ladies, please, put a little extra effort into avoiding high heels and shoes that are too narrow. There are plenty of fashionable options out there that won't hurt your feet.


Dr. JP EltonFoot