Hammertoe, a common foot problem, occurs when a toe bends abnormally. At Zimmermann Podiatry, led by Erik Zimmermann, DPM, our team can successfully treat hammertoe with nonsurgical therapies if addressed early. Don’t delay — reach out as soon as you notice your toe bending unnaturally. Experience our comfortable and welcoming atmosphere by calling our Leesburg, Florida, office or booking your appointment online today.

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What is hammertoe?

Hammertoe occurs when the second, third, or fourth toe bends at the middle joint. Flexible hammertoe means you can flatten your toe, even though it might keep popping back into the bent position afterward.

Rigid hammertoe means your toe stays bent. Even with pressure applied to your toe, the joint is frozen.

Hammertoe, whether flexible or rigid, can be quite painful and also lead to other issues. For example, when the top of your toe rubs against the inside of your shoe constantly, it often leads to corns and calluses. As the irritation keeps happening, the corn or callus could even turn into an open wound that won’t heal.

A hammertoe can also affect your gait (walking style). It can throw off the balance in your whole foot and may increase your risk of falls, especially as you age.

What causes hammertoe?

The main cause of hammertoe is toe muscle imbalance. When the muscles are out of balance, it leads to extra pressure on both the toe joints and the tendons that connect joints to muscles, and the end result is hammertoe.

Other factors can contribute to hammertoe as well, including improperly fitting shoes and shoes that pressure or squeeze your toes.

Chronic conditions like arthritis can affect the joints and the attached tendons, which may contribute to hammertoe as well.

When do I need hammertoe treatment?

The earlier, the better is the rule for hammertoe treatment. A hammertoe that is still in an earlier flexible stage often responds well to noninvasive approaches. The Zimmermann Podiatry team uses a variety of effective strategies to treat flexible hammertoe, such as:

  • Changing your current shoes for softer, better-fitting ones
  • Special toe and foot exercises to strengthen toe muscles
  • Straps to help the toe lie flat
  • Cushions to protect the top of the toe from irritation

With a rigid hammertoe, you can alleviate symptoms but can’t alter the frozen joint. Those cases may require surgery to reposition the toe.

The team is firmly dedicated to helping you feel better and get back to good foot health without surgery whenever possible — and in most cases, hammertoe is treated successfully with noninvasive measures. Remember, early treatment is crucial when it comes to hammertoe!

If you need help with hammertoe, don’t wait: Contact Zimmermann Podiatry online or call the office today.