Hammer Toes

The Foot Institute

Angelo Morreale, DPM

Podiatrist & Foot Surgeon located in Shreveport, LA & Natchitoches, LA

Hammertoe is a common joint deformity in which one of your little toes pops up in the middle to create a hammer look. If you get treatment quickly, hammertoe is easy to resolve. At The Foot Institute in Shreveport and Natchitoches, Louisiana, leading podiatrist Angelo Morreale, DPM, offers conservative and surgical solutions for hammertoe, claw toe, mallet toe, and other joint deformities. If you’re an active person who just doesn’t have time for hammertoe to slow you down, call The Foot Institute or book an appointment with the online scheduler today.

Hammer Toes Q & A

What is a hammertoe?

Hammertoe is a type of joint deformity that involves the proximal interphalangeal joint (PIP) — the middle toe joint. When you have hammertoe, your PIP pushes up and stays contracted. This forms a hammer shape. 

Hammertoe usually affects the second toe, but can also occur in the lesser digits. Hammertoe often occurs along with bunions. Claw toe and mallet toe are similar joint deformities. 

Claw toe

Claw toe affects both the PIP and distal interphalangeal (DIP) joints at the ends of your toes to create a claw-shaped foot. It usually occurs in all little toes. 

Mallet toe 

Mallet toe affects the DIP joint and can occur in any little toe. It causes a curled look in your toe.

Hammertoe can be embarrassing with your shoes off and uncomfortable with your shoes on. The contracted joint often rubs against the top of your shoe to form a corn or callus. In severe cases, hammertoe can disrupt your normal walking pattern. 

What causes hammertoes?

Too-tight shoes such as high heels are the most common cause of hammertoe, a big reason why it’s more common among women. When your toe is forced into a contracted position for extended periods, it triggers muscle and tendon shortening. 

Eventually, it becomes difficult or impossible to move your joint out of the contracted position. 

Joint disease like rheumatoid arthritis, complications of diabetes, foot trauma, and genetic predisposition can also contribute to hammertoe. 

How is hammertoe treated?

At The Foot Institute, Dr. Morreale performs a clinical exam and discusses your symptoms and medical history with you. During the exam, he carefully manipulates your toe to determine whether you have fixed or flexible hammertoe. 

Flexible (early-stage) hammertoe can still straighten; with rigid (late-stage) hammertoe, your joint is permanently contracted. For flexible hammertoe, Dr. Morreale may use conservative treatments including:

  • Padding
  • Taping
  • Splinting
  • Custom orthotics
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Cortisone injections 
  • Special toe exercises
  • Corn and callus treatment 
  • Wound care, if corns or calluses develop into an open wound

For rigid hammertoe that interferes with your active lifestyle, you might need surgery. Dr. Morreale is a highly skilled and board-certified foot surgeon who can remove excess bone around the joint, realign the joint, place an implant, or fuse toe joints. 

Hammertoe needn’t slow you down. Call The Foot Institute or book online to learn how Dr. Morreale can end your symptoms.