Hammertoes

Say hello to a life without toe pain.

Don’t resign yourself to the pain of a hammertoe. Find effective relief from experts you trust. The foot and ankle specialists at Henry Ford Health System offer a variety of treatments for hammertoes. We combine leading-edge technology with personalized care to achieve the best outcomes.

Hammertoe care: Why choose Henry Ford?

Henry Ford offers a total foot and ankle care program. We treat hammertoes and related conditions, including complex challenges that can arise from diabetes or circulatory problems. You get all the care you need from one source.

We offer:

  • Complete care: Our foot and ankle experts work with radiologists, diabetes specialists, wound care experts and other providers across Henry Ford. This collaboration ensures we deliver the most accurate diagnoses and comprehensive care plans.
  • Personalized approach: We partner with you to determine the best treatments for your needs. By taking the time to understand your lifestyle and recovery goals, we can design a care plan that fits your life.
  • Easy access: Henry Ford has an extensive network of primary care doctors, foot and ankle clinics and imaging facilities throughout southeast and central Michigan. You can find the services you need close to home. Find a location.

What are hammertoes?

Hammertoes are toes that are abnormally bent upwards at the middle joint. This condition, also referred to as claw toe or mallet toe, usually affects the three middle toes. Hammertoes are usually caused by shoes that are too narrow, such as those with high heels. These shoes force the toe into a bent position. Over time, the toe tendons tighten and can’t be straightened.

Left untreated, hammertoes can lead to additional foot problems, including:

  • Corns on the top of the bent toes, and calluses on the ball of the foot (learn more about corns and calluses)
  • Inability to comfortably wear shoes

Hammertoe can pose a serious condition for people with diabetes. Since peripheral nerve damage can cause numbness in the feet, people with diabetes may not realize they’ve developed a hammertoe. They may continue walking and wearing ill-fitting shoes, which can lead to dangerous sores or open wounds on their toes or feet. Learn more about our diabetic foot care

Hammertoe treatment

Wearing proper-fitting shoes can usually relieve mild hammertoe. Make sure the shoes have ample room for your toes to extend fully.

More severe cases of hammertoe usually require targeted treatment. We offer:

  • Custom shoe inserts or toe pads to help relieve pressure
  • Corn and callus shaving to reduce friction when wearing shoes
  • Surgical correction

Hammertoe surgery

Hammertoe surgery is only for people whose toe pain persists after trying conservative treatments. If you are a candidate for surgery, our specialists tell you what you can expect before, during and after the procedure. Depending on the type of surgery you undergo, the recovery time can range from several weeks to several months.

Surgery for hammertoe targets either the bone or the soft tissues of the bent toe:

  • Fusion surgery: The bony bump on top of the bent toe is removed. The toe joint bones are fused into a straight position and held in place by pins or screws.
  • Tendon surgery: The toe tendon is cut to release the bent toe (tendon release surgery). In another type of procedure, doctors may reroute a tendon to the top of the toe, pulling the bent toe straight. This operation is called tendon transfer surgery.
Expert Orthopedic Care

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