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Hammertoes are an unnatural bending upward of the joints in the smaller toes, usually the second and third toe, causing the toe to resemble an upside down V.

This puts pressure on the toe and the center of the foot, especially when wearing shoes, which can lead to pain in the ball of the foot, calluses and cramps.

Like most foot conditions, hammertoes will get worse over time, so it’s important to seek treatment to avoid long-term deformity.

Hammertoe Causes

While several factors can contribute to hammertoes like arthritis, heredity and old age, most often they can be traced back to poor shoe choices.

When you continually wear shoes that are too tight, too short or overly pointy, your toes have to compensate for the lack of space. If they can’t go down or out, their only choice is up. 

Not surprisingly, hammertoes are much more common among women.

(We suffer for our beauty, don’t we girls?)

Hammertoe Prevention

The good news is that your body will usually send several warnings that hammertoes are forming. Your toes might start hurting when you put shoes on.

Or you’ll notice corns, calluses or sometimes even sores forming from the friction your shoes cause.

Often, this will lead to redness, inflammation and pain. As the deformity progresses, the toes will start to point upward at the joint, even when you’re not wearing shoes. 

If you notice any of these symptoms, call our office for an appointment. We can usually reverse the damage and deformity if we catch it in time.

Hammertoe Conservative Treatments

When you come to our office, we’ll carefully examine your feet and might take X-rays to see how much damage has been done.  Then we have several options for treating hammertoes, depending on the severity:

  • Changing your shoes to give your toes a little more room to move around
  • Orthotic devices (Don’t worry, ladies. Orthotics have become so advanced that we can often slip them into very attractive shoes.  No one will notice!)
  • Exercise and stretching
  • Anti-inflammatory medications or injections to relieve the pain and inflammation
  • Wearing splints to realign the toes
In-Office Surgery With No Time Off Work

In- office surgery might be necessary in more advanced cases, especially if the hammertoe has become rigid or painful.

This involves making a small incision so we can either file away a small area to relax the toe. You’ll need a few days to let the toe rest after that, and we’ll give you a splint to hold the toe in place as it heals.

This BEFORE and AFTER image is of a patient with a dislocated hammertoe and ulcer (caused by the toe rubbing on shoes).

The AFTER photo is one week post-op. The patient had a minimally invasive surgery, right in the office and was able to walk out on their own with a surgical shoe the very same day.

If you are experiencing foot pain, call our office or make an online appointment


Absolutely amazing staff! Smiling faces, compassion and understanding! Couldn’t have asked for a better experience!

Amanda Rugg

I was frankly shocked at how good they were at EVERYthing. They saw me less than 2 hours after I called. Dr. Barko was ebullient and professional. You can ask them questions via TXT, which is huge. Their offices are spic-n-span and modern. Basically, they're knocking it out of the park. I don't wish for more in-grown toenails, but if it happens, I'm going straight back to Lexington Podiatry.

Mick Jeffries

I love Lexington Podiatry! The staff is always so helpful, and attentive. I love Dr. Freels. She is top notch, and is always so happy to see me, and listens to me about what is going on.

Amie Castle

Dr. Carter diagnosed and created a treatment plan in minutes- other podiatrists have treated me incorrectly for years. So pleased to have answers and solutions.

Katy Perkins

My left foot had been hurting for a while. The staff and doctors here are all quite knowledgeable and professional, as well as friendly and personable. My diagnosis was promptly made, x-ray completed right there in the office, and I left with the two braces that I needed. No waiting for the mail, trip to brace shop, nada. Most excellent clinic!

Susan Bell

Accepted Insurance Providers

There may be providers, plans and coverage not included on this list. We will help you with navigating the options for coverage and costs. We also accept HSA, Flex accounts, Care Credit and prompt pay pricing for treatment at the clinic and surgical procedures. We do not accept Medicaid or CareSource plans at this time. Visit our New Patient page for more details.