Have Hammertoes? Your Guide to What They Are, Prevention, and Treatment Options


When you lay your feet flat against the floor, you expect your toes to point straight forward and sit perpendicular to the floor’s surface. In the case of a foot with hammertoes, one or more toes will curl downward instead, so that your middle toe joint resembles that of a hammer. This happens when the ligaments and muscles around the middle toe joint buckle and get stuck. While this is a common deformity that typically affects the second, third, or fourth toes, it can be seen in all toes.

Flexible & Rigid Hammertoe Types

You can tell which type of hammertoe you have by simply seeing if you can move the toe. If you are able to move your toe at the middle joint, this is a flexible hammertoe. This is a mild form of the deformity and can be treated without surgery.

If the tendons have become too rigid and the joint has been pressed out of alignment, you aren’t going to be able to move your toe. If this is the case, this is a rigid hammertoe and often requires surgery to fix.

Symptoms of the above types of hammertoes include swelling and redness, inability to straighten the toe, pain when moving or earring shoes, difficulty walking, and corn or calluses on the top middle joint of the toe.

What Causes Hammertoes in the First Place?