Hammer Toe

Premier Podiatry

Board Certified Podiatrist Foot & Ankle Surgeon located in Normal, IL & Pontiac, IL

Hammertoe begins as a mild bend in your toe that may not cause other symptoms. Even though it seems like a small problem, this is the time when you should see Dr. Scott O’Connor at Premier Podiatry because he can treat the problem and prevent it from worsening to the point of needing surgery. With offices in Normal, Pontiac, and Eureka, Illinois, Dr. O’Connor provides customized care for each patient, developing a plan to relieve your pain, straighten the toe, and restore movement. To learn more, call the nearest office or book an appointment online today.

Hammer Toe Q & A


What is a hammertoe?

A hammertoe is a type of deformity that affects your second, third, fourth, or fifth (little) toes. It occurs when the toe is abnormally bent, so the tip of the toe bends downward rather than pointing forward.

This foot deformity is caused by an imbalance in the muscles and tendons that bend and straighten your toe. It begins when the toe is forced into a bent position and stays that way long enough that the muscle tightens. Without treatment, the opposing tendon eventually won’t be able to straighten the toe.

Although you can inherit a tendency to develop hammertoe, the condition usually develops due to:

  • Second toe longer than the first toe
  • Joint instability
  • Inflammatory joint disease
  • Neuromuscular conditions
  • Shoes that cramp your toes

Trauma doesn’t cause hammertoe, but an injury like a broken toe may increase your risk of developing hammertoe.

What are the symptoms of hammertoe?

You may experience one or more of the following symptoms if you have hammertoe:

  • Pain from pressure when wearing shoes
  • Corns and calluses
  • Inflammation
  • Burning sensation
  • Toe contracture (toe won’t straighten)

How is hammertoe treated?

Hammertoe doesn’t improve without treatment and only worsens over time. When hammertoe first develops, your toe is still flexible. At this early stage, Dr. O’Connor can treat the toe with conservative therapies such as:

  • Splinting to realign your toe
  • Orthotics to restore muscle balance
  • Shoe padding to prevent irritation and swelling
  • Exercises to stretch toe muscles and tendons
  • Shoes that have a larger toe box and sufficient length
  • Corticosteroid injections to alleviate severe inflammation and pain

If you don’t get treatment and your hammertoe progresses, the toe becomes rigid, and the muscle stays permanently shortened, firmly holding the toe in a bent position. At this stage, Dr. O’Connor must perform surgery to fix the hammertoe and relieve your pain.

Dr. O’Connor, a foot surgery specialist, chooses from several surgical techniques depending on your condition. He may straighten your toe by performing a bone fusion or a joint resection, to name two of the possible procedures.

To get compassionate care for your hammertoe, call the nearest Premier Podiatry office in Eureka, Normal, or Pontiac, Illinois or book an appointment online today.