A hammertoe is a deformity of the joint of the second, third, fourth or fifth toe, causing it to be functionally or permanently bent, resembling a hammer.


Hammertoes can result from wearing poorly fitting shoes that have forced the toe into a bent position. However, the most frequent causes are more genetic in nature. If your mother or father had hammertoes, you are likely prone to as well. This is related to foot type and function and, over time, arthritic changes and muscle imbalances can facilitate hammertoes. It can also be caused by muscle, nerve, or joint damage resulting from conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease or diabetes.


In many cases, conservative treatment consisting of shoe accommodations, padding, and shoes with soft, spacious toe boxes can be enough to resolve the condition while, in more severe or longstanding cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to correct the deformity. Surgery such as releasing the joint contracture by removing a small wedge from the joint, a fusion or pin fixation are decided upon depending on the extent and type of deformity.