Hammertoe & Claw Toe

Hammertoes and Claw Toes are terms that are used interchangably to describe a contraction deformity of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th toes. The easiest way to know if you have a hammertoe is to look down at your feet. If your toes are not straight, you likely have a hammertoe.

Like many deformities of the foot, hammertoes progress or worsen over time. Hammertoes begin as a flexible deformity, meaning that you are able to manually straighten your toes out; however, as the deformity progresses, the toe becomes more rigid, or stiff. This is generally when the pain becomes worse, due to pressure from external stimuli, such as shoes. Over time, the hammertoe may start to drift over or under the adjacent toe, causing a "Crossover Toe", which can become very painful in shoes.

The most common cause of hammertoe deformities is a muscle-tendon imbalance of the toe, which is a result of foot structure. Since foot structure is based on genetics, it is very hard to prevent this deformity from happening. You can help to slow down the progression, and alleviate painful symptoms, by wearing more sensible shoes. Remember, shoes are not the cause of the hammertoe, they are usually the source of pain associated with hammertoes. Evaluation of hammertoes involves a complete history and physical examination, as well as x-rays to assess the foot structure.

Symptoms Associated With Hammertoes:

  • Pain and Swelling
  • Corns or Calluses
  • Crossover Toes
  • Open sores or Ulceration


Non-surgical treatment for hammertoes is limited, but can be alternative to surgery in some people. Treatments such as padding, shoes with more room in the toe box, toe spacers, and anti-inflammatory medication may help relieve the symptoms.

Surgical treatment is the only way to truly correct a hammertoe, and the procedures have a high success rate and patient satisfaction history. Surgery involves removing a small portion of bone from the toe, and releasing some of the contracted ligaments to straighten the toe. The toe then must be held in position for 4-6 weeks, allowing the toe to heal in the proper position.

Historically, the position is held by metal pins that exit the tip of the toe, and are pulled about 6 weeks after surgery. Thanks to tremendous advances in technology, there are now implants that will hold the toe position, without the need for pins or wires. Some of these implants will even absorb into your body over time, leaving no metal device behind!

If you have questions about whether hammertoe surgery is right for you, Call us at 512-593-2949 or CLICK HERE to Schedule an Appointment.