Hammer Toe Treatment, Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

Hammer toe deformity is common with people of all ages. It is characterized by the toe bending upward at the middle joint with the end of the toe becoming angled downward causing the toe to no longer lay flat.

Two Types of Hammer Toe

Flexible Hammer Toe: If the toe still can be moved at the joint, it's a flexible hammer toe. Since this is a milder form of the problem there may be several treatment options such as using pads, cushions, or manual techniques.

Rigid Hammer Toe: If the tendons in the toe become rigid, they press the joint out of alignment. At this stage, the toe cannot be moved. It usually means that surgery is needed.

Since rigid hammer toe is stiffened and unresponsive to normal techniques. This type of condition is much more difficult to correct.

Hammer Toes, Rigid Toes


Hammer Toe Symptoms

Is hammer toe painful? It can be. Moving the affected toe can be difficult or painful.

Do you think that you are suffering from hammer toe? Read on to see if you have any other symptoms:

  • Putting on a shoe may hurt the top of the bent toe
  • Corns and calluses can form on the top of the toe joint
  • Hammer toe swelling can occur and takes on an angry red color
  • Inability to flex your foot or wiggle your toes
  • The ball of the foot under the bent toe hurts
  • Difficulty walking

What is the Difference between Claw Toe vs Hammer Toe vs. Mallet Toe?

There are 3 common bent toe deformities and each one affects the toe joints differently creating that abnormal bend.

What is claw toe?: Claw toes are bent into an abnormal claw-like shape. The condition usually happens to the four smaller toes of the foot and it’s the middle and end joints (the joints furthest away from your ankle) that buckle.

What is hammer toe?Toes which curve at the middle joint, forcing the toe down.

What is mallet toe?Similar to hammer toe but the toes bend at the joint closest to the tip.

Hammer Toe Causes

The condition is usually caused by an imbalance in the muscles, tendons and ligaments that align the toe normally and hold it in place.

The most common cause of hammer toe:

Poorly fitting footwear such as tightly fitting shoes, narrow or pointed toe boxes that cause your toes to squeeze together, and high heels can put severe pressure on the toes and their joints.

Other causes of hammer toe include:

  • Heredity
  • Injury
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Age (the risks increases as you grow older)

Hammer Toe Prevention

  • Use PediFix® orthotic devices that help align the foot and can provide a cushioned layer for the affected toe, usually offering significant relief. This is especially true for severely bent under toes. (link to orthotic device on the PediFix website)
  • Wear better fitting shoes that are high and broad across the toes, called a wide toe-box shoe. It will allow your toes more room and often alleviate pressure, usually relieving some of the pain.
  • Start an exercise routine from your doctor or podiatrist. If hammer toe is caught early, these exercises have proven to be an effective way of reducing the chances of it progressing further, helping to return flexibility in the toes.
  • Non-Invasive Hammer Toe Treatments
  • Apply a PediFix® Hammer Toe product from the selection below. Many of these products can help reduce pain, provide relief on toe tips, prevent corns, calluses, blisters and may help you walk better.

Recommended PediFix® Hammer Toe Solutions:

Other Hammer Toe Treatment Options

If your symptoms persist despite your best efforts to find relief, contact your doctor immediately. In these special cases, surgery may be considered as an alternative.

Complications that can arise from corns include bursitis and the development of an ulcer.


How to prevent corns?

Usually they can be prevented by avoiding friction-causing activities and wearing shoes that fit properly, are activity-appropriate, and are kept in good repair. Soles and heels that wear unevenly may indicate a need for corrective footwear or special insoles. Socks and stockings should not cramp the toes. Women should also steer away from wearing high-heeled shoes.

Wear comfortable shoes. Ill-fitting footwear often cause corns and calluses. Wear shoes that do not cramp your toes.

Look at the heels on an old pair of shoes. If one side is markedly worn, you may be shifting your weight unevenly as you walk.

Ask your physician or podiatrist if a shoe insert (orthotic) could help distribute your weight more evenly. Protect your skin. Visit your pharmacy or medical supply store.


Foot corn treatment includes first eliminating the cause of the pressure. Over-the-counter preparations are available to treat corns. These include padding (to reduce the friction on the area), ointments and medicated pads (to soften and blister the skin layers, making them easier to remove and reducing the pain). If the problem persists, consult your foot doctor.

Links to recommended PediFix® Products:


We hope these suggestions improve your health and make you more comfortable. However, if you have any concerns about our advice, if any symptom persists for an unreasonable amount of time or if your condition worsens after self-treatment, we encourage you to consult a medical professional for further assistance. Please note, people with diabetes and poor circulation should always consult a medical professional before performing any self-treatment.