What causes a hammertoe?

What causes a hammertoe?

A muscle/tendon imbalance is usually what causes a hammertoe.  It usually leads to the toe bending after there are some structural changes in the foot.  These changes usually happen over time.

Hammertoes can worsen by shoes that do not fit properly.  If shoes are too tight and a person has a toe that is long the shoe can cause the toe to bend in a cramped position.

Hammertoes, in some cases, can be inherited or also can occur in a toe that has previously has trauma such as a broken toe.

What are some non-surgical treatments?

All treatments are done on a case by case basis and they depend on the severity of the hammertoe.

-Trimming corns and calluses.  This should never be done at home.  It is best to have a podiatrist do this, because they are trained to do it in ways that benefit you the best.

-Padding.  A podiatrist might recommend pads to help prevent corns from being irritated.  Some of them may be bought over the counter, but medicated pads should be avoided.  It is best to talk to your podiatrist about what padding is best for you.

-Change in shoes.  It is best to avoid shoes that limit the space around your toes, such as, pointed shoes, too short of shoes, or high-heeled shoes. If choosing shoes with a heel it is best to look for something that is not higher than 2 inches.  It is also best to look for shoes with a bigger toe box.

-Orthotics.  These can help control the imbalance in the muscle/tendon.

-Injections.  These can help with the pain and inflammation that is caused by hammertoes.

-Medications. Some medications may be prescribed to help reduce pain and inflammation.

-Splints or strapping.  These may be applied by your podiatrist to help straighten the toe that is bent.


If you have a hammertoe and would like treatment for it Contact Us to set up an appointment with Dr. Brian Gale, DPM, FACFAS at Dakota Foot and ankle clinic.

Contact Us

Dakota Foot & Ankle Clinic


8:30 am-4:30 pm


8:30 am-4:30 pm


8:30 am-4:30 pm


8:30 am-4:30 pm


8:30 am-4:30 pm