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Causes of Hammertoe

Tuesday, 30 January 2024 00:00

Hammertoe, a common foot deformity characterized by an abnormal bending of one or more toes at the middle joint, can develop due to various factors. First, genetics can play a significant role, as individuals with an inherited foot structure that predisposes them to hammertoes may be more susceptible. The choice of footwear is another critical factor, as tight, narrow, or ill-fitting shoes can force the toes into unnatural positions, subjecting the toe joints to excessive pressure. High-heeled shoes, in particular, can push the toes forward into a bent position, contributing to hammertoe development. Additionally, a toe length discrepancy, where one toe is longer than the others, can increase the risk, especially if it consistently rubs against the inside of the shoe. Conditions like arthritis can also lead to joint inflammation and deformities, including hammertoes. Past toe injuries or trauma can disrupt toe joint alignment, and muscle imbalances affecting toe movement can also play a role. If you have developed a hammertoe, it is suggested that you schedule an appointment with a podiatrist for early intervention and treatment to help manage the condition and prevent it from worsening.


Hammertoes can be a painful condition to live with. For more information, contact one of our podiatrists from Advanced Ankle & Foot Surgeons. Our doctors will answer any of your foot- and ankle-related questions.

Hammertoe is a foot deformity that affects the joints of the second, third, fourth, or fifth toes of your feet. It is a painful foot condition in which these toes curl and arch up, which can often lead to pain when wearing footwear.


  • Pain in the affected toes
  • Development of corns or calluses due to friction
  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Contracture of the toes


Genetics – People who are genetically predisposed to hammertoe are often more susceptible

Arthritis – Because arthritis affects the joints in your toes, further deformities stemming from arthritis can occur

Trauma – Direct trauma to the toes could potentially lead to hammertoe

Ill-fitting shoes – Undue pressure on the front of the toes from ill-fitting shoes can potentially lead to the development of hammertoe


Orthotics – Custom made inserts can be used to help relieve pressure placed on the toes and therefore relieve some of the pain associated with it

Medications – Oral medications such as anti-inflammatories or NSAIDs could be used to treat the pain and inflammation hammertoes causes. Injections of corticosteroids are also sometimes used

Surgery – In more severe cases where the hammertoes have become more rigid, foot surgery is a potential option

If you have any questions please contact our office located in O'Fallon, IL . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot and ankle needs.

Read more about What Are Hammertoes?
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