How to Tell if You Have a Hammertoe

A hammertoe is one of those medical conditions that pretty much looks the way it sounds. When you have a hammertoe, one of your toes bends at its middle joint, causing the end of your toe to stick out, kind of like the head of a hammer.

Having a hammertoe is no fun. But the good news is that hammertoes can be successfully treated. The team of podiatric specialists at Premier Foot & Ankle can provide you with the care you need if you have a hammertoe.

We’d like to share more about this common foot condition so you can recognize it and get prompt treatment.

What is a hammertoe?

A hammertoe is a type of deformity that typically develops in the second, third, or fourth toes on either foot. It results from muscle imbalances or chronic stress on your foot or toes, like what may occur when you spend too many hours wearing ill-fitting shoes.

When the muscles in your foot are chronically tight, they may pull your toes in a way that forces them to bend for long periods of time and strain the muscles that support them. Over time, the muscles have trouble relaxing.

A hammertoe may also develop in women who wear high heels or in people with rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.

Signs of a hammertoe

Here are some of the things you can look for to know whether you have a hammertoe:

Calluses or corns

If you have a hammertoe, calluses or corns may form either on the top of the middle part of your toe, or on the tip of your toe. When your toe bends at odd angles, the thickened skin of calluses and corns may develop when the toe of your skin rubs on your socks or shoes.

It may be tempting to ignore calluses or corns, thinking they’re not a big deal. But calluses or corns are often one of the first signs of a hammertoe, and may occur when the hammertoe is easiest to treat.


A hammertoe can cause pain to develop in your toes or feet. You may also experience soreness, tightness, or swelling.

Change in shoe fit

When you develop a hammertoe, shoes that had previously fit comfortably may feel too tight. This happens because the developing deformity in your toe can enlarge the amount of space your toes take up in your shoe or may shift their position in your shoe’s toebox.

Treating hammertoe

In the earliest stages, a hammertoe can be corrected with simple treatments such as wearing open-toed sandals or shoes with a roomier toebox, doing toe exercises or foot muscle stretches, or using specially designed foot straps or cushions. Custom orthotics, physical therapy, medications, or steroid injections may also help.

When conservative treatments like these don’t work, or if your hammertoe has progressed, you may require surgery. Here at Premier Foot & Ankle, we offer a range of customized surgical procedures that use specialized medical hardware and/or implants to straighten a hammertoe and relieve pressure on your toes and feet.

Catch hammertoes early

If you suspect you have a hammertoe, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Early treatment could reduce your likelihood of needing surgery. 

To schedule a consultation with a podiatrist, contact one of our offices in Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Frisco, Allen, Mesquite, or Celina, Texas, and make an appointment today.

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