How to Tell if You Have a Hammertoe

If one of your toes is permanently bent at the middle joint, preventing it from laying flat like the other toes, it could be a hammertoe. Hammertoes can occur in any toe other than the big toe. This condition gets its name because your toe is bent into a shape resembling the head of a hammer. Hammertoe develops over time, and is typically caused by an imbalance in the foot’s tendons and muscles. If you have a genetic predisposition towards this condition, you may exacerbate its development by wearing pointy shoes or high heels, which place pressure on your toes and force them into a narrow space. Injuries and foot conditions such as bunions can also contribute to the formation of a hammertoe, as well as arthritis. Hammertoes are a progressive condition, meaning they worsen with time and, therefore, may become rigid. That is why it is important to get them diagnosed and treated by a podiatrist as early as possible—while they are still flexible and there is a greater chance to correct the deformity.

Hammertoes can be a painful condition to live with. For more information, contact Dr. Kennedy Legel of Advanced Foot & Ankle Care Specialists. Our doctor will answer any of your foot- and ankle-related questions.


Hammertoe is a foot deformity that occurs due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. It can be caused by the type of shoes you wear, your foot structure, trauma, and certain disease processes.


  • Painful and/or difficult toe movement
  • Swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Calluses/Corns
  • Physical deformity

Risk Factors

  • Age – The risk of hammertoe increases with age
  • Sex – Women are more likely to have hammertoe compared to men
  • Toe Length – You are more likely to develop hammertoe if your second toe is longer than your big toe
  • Certain Diseases – Arthritis and diabetes may make you more likely to develop hammertoe


If you have hammertoe, you should change into a more comfortable shoe that provides enough room for your toes. Exercises such as picking up marbles may strengthen and stretch your toe muscles. Nevertheless, it is important to seek assistance from a podiatrist in order to determine the severity of your hammertoe and see which treatment option will work best for you.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office located in Dallas, TX . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.

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