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Often, a foot with a bunion will also have a hammertoe, which results when the bunion pushes the big toe under the second toe, raising the second toe into a claw-like position. Although the condition usually stems from muscle imbalance, it is often aggravated by poor-fitting shoes such as high-heeled shoes. A hammertoe can also occur when a bunion is not present. Those with rheumatoid arthritis, high arches or a tendency to rotate their feet outward when walking (pronation) are especially susceptible.


Once the toe is fixed into position, hammertoes rub against shoes and cause painful corns and calluses.

Conservative Treatment Options

Shoes with a high toe box, or roomy front end and open-toed shoes are recommended
Protective pads or moleskin to cushion skin against painful pressure and rubbing
Shoe inserts (orthotic devices) prescribed by your podiatrist and molded to your feet help your feet function better
Specially fitted or prescription shoes large enough to accommodate the hammertoe
Medication such as corticosteroid injections and pain relievers for temporary relief of symptoms
Physical therapy, massage and acupuncture to increase range of motion and decrease swelling

Surgical Correction for Hammertoes

In treating a flexible hammertoe, tendons are surgically repositioned to allow the toe to lie flat. Afterwards, your podiatrist may recommend that your wear a surgical shoe for several weeks.

For a rigid hammertoe, one of several treatments is available. In an arthroplasty, a portion of the joint is removed and the toe is straightened. With fusion, cartilage between the two toe bones is removed and the bones fuse as one longer bone. In some situations a portion of the bone is removed and replaced with an implant. Afterwards, you may wear a surgical shoe for several weeks.


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Dr. Henry Tseng Podiatry
Tel: (626) 330-4866 Fax: (626) 330-7989
We speak English, Spanish and Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese)
We gladly accept most insurance: Medicare/Medical, private insurance, and referrals from
family doctors.