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Do Hammertoes Get Worse Over Time?

do hammertoes get worse over timeA hammertoe is defined as a deformity of the foot which causes the toe, or several toes, to curl downward or bend below the rest of the toes, instead of naturally pointing forward. This can affect one toe or all of the toes, on one foot or both. It most commonly appears in the second and third toes. The toes are all made up of two joints, which allow the flexibility to bend both in the middle and in the lower portion. When the middle joint becomes completely dislocated and deformed, a hammertoe is present. In some cases, patients are actually born with a hammer toe(s) and in other cases, they can form over time, often in adulthood.

Do hammertoes get worse over time? - There are many ways how the condition can develop or progress. They is a complete joint dislocation which can form from injuries to the foot or toe(s), different forms of arthritis, abnormal arch of the foot, abnormally tight ligaments and pressure from a bunion. Additionally, wearing shoes which may not fit quite properly can also stimulate the development of the condition, when worn routinely. There are also deeper health issues which can cause this deformity, such as spinal cord damage or a compromised peripheral nerve. These can cause changes in the way you walk and carry your feet, which can all lead towards the downward pointing or curling of the toes.


There are many medications and both surgical and nonsurgical options for treatment hammer toe syndrome. The easiest correction would be a change in footwear. Wearing comfortable shoes which fit properly (determined by your podiatrist) can prevent any further damage.  Additionally, there is a variety of orthotic devices which are available that are placed inside of shoes and can help alleviate muscle and/or tendon imbalance. Injection therapy is also a proven method, which involves corticosteroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation. If an open sore has developed, surgical procedures are recommended.


The best way to avoid any complications from a hammertoe(s) is to diagnose it early on, by visiting your podiatrist. He or she can evaluate your toes, as well as the foot in general, to determine and customize a proper treatment plan. If left untreated, hammertoes will become progressively worse over time and can prevent patients from walking properly and even result in more serious complications.

Do Hammertoes Get Worse Over Time? - Get up on your feet this summer, call Dr. John J Hickey, DPM, PLLC of Levittown Podiatry at 516-735-4545 to get started.