When the second toe bends up at the middle joint, it may be indicative of a condition that is known as hammertoe(opens in a new tab). This is considered to be a deformity, and can cause difficulty in walking. In severe cases, these deformed toes can resemble hammers, and may require surgery to permanently straighten the toes. Hammertoe can occur from genetic factors, or from wearing high heels, or tight shoes. Many times, these types of shoes do not provide adequate room for the toes to move freely in. Some patients find mild relief when specific toe stretches are performed, and custom made insoles are worn. If surgery is performed, it can take several weeks for a full recovery, and a special shoe may need to be worn. If you suffer from hammertoe, please speak with a podiatrist when the first symptoms appear, so a proper diagnosis can be made and treatment can be started.

Hammertoes can be a painful condition to live with. For more information, contact one of our podiatrists of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists. Our doctors will answer any of your foot- and ankle-related questions.


Hammertoe is a foot deformity that occurs due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. It can be caused by the type of shoes you wear, your foot structure, trauma, and certain disease processes.


  • Painful and/or difficult toe movement
  • Swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Calluses/Corns
  • Physical deformity

Risk Factors

  • Age – The risk of hammertoe increases with age
  • Sex – Women are more likely to have hammertoe compared to men
  • Toe Length – You are more likely to develop hammertoe if your second toe is longer than your big toe
  • Certain Diseases – Arthritis and diabetes may make you more likely to develop hammertoe


If you have hammertoe, you should change into a more comfortable shoe that provides enough room for your toes. Exercises such as picking up marbles may strengthen and stretch your toe muscles. Nevertheless, it is important to seek assistance from a podiatrist in order to determine the severity of your hammertoe and see which treatment option will work best for you.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact one of our offices located in Lake in the Hills, Cary, Fox Lake, Crystal Lake, Hoffman Estates, Chicago, Elgin, and Hinsdale, IL . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.