Hammer Toe

What is a hammertoe

When the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that hold the toe straight become imbalanced, it creates an upward bend in the middle joint of the toe (hammertoe) or the first joint, near the toenail (mallet toe).

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Hammertoe Causes

This can be caused by trauma to the foot, toes, different types of footwear, the foot structure and some diseases can be contributing factors to these toe abnormalities.

  • Footwear - Tight fitting and high heeled footwear can cause toes to crowd and over an extended period of time can lead to a muscular imbalance in the toes.
  • Improper toe muscle balance - The instability of the muscular system in the foot digits can cause the toe joints to bend in an upward position.
  • Injury - When a toe receives trauma from stubbing, jamming or a break, it can make the toe more susceptible to hammertoe or mallet toe.
  • Age, sex (because of shoe styles), toe length, lifestyle and certain diseases can also be factors in who is more susceptible to getting hammertoe or mallet toe.


The upward bend of the imbalance toes can cause calluses, corns from continuous rubbing against footwear. It can also cause discomfort and pain when attempting to move the affected digit.


One of the major factors in the prevention of hammertoe and mallet toe is proper footwear. Having shoes that allow your toes the room for proper mobility will decrease your chances of getting hammertoe or mallet toe. Proper shoe size, low heels, and adjustable laces can also help.


Any diagnosis should be carried out by a licensed podiatrist. Self-diagnosis can lead to improper treatment and ultimately worsen the initial problem.