Treatment Options for Hammertoes

Most peoples’ toes point straight out from their feet, allowing them to lay flat in their shoes. But if you have a hammertoe, your toe inclines to the middle joint, then curls downard. This elevated middle joint can occur in any of your middle toes and results from an imbalance in the ligaments, tendons, and muscles that should keep your toe lying flat.  

At first, a hammertoe may not seem like a big deal. As the condition worsens, though, hammertoe can cause your toe to lose flexibility or develop corns or calluses. Worse yet, left untreated, it can cause severe deformity in your toe. 

That’s why Dr. David J. Kaplan offers treatment for hammertoes, ranging from conservative treatments to hammertoe surgery. Here at FootCare Specialist, Inc., in San Mateo and Half Moon Bay, California, Dr. Kaplan helps you find the best treatment option for your unique feet.

Here are a few of the treatments he commonly recommends to help resolve hammertoes:

Toe exercises

Because hammertoes develop because of problems with your tendons, ligaments, and muscles, stretching and strengthening can help them from contracting and tightening further. Toe exercises are most effective when started early into hammertoe development. 

Dr. Kaplan suggests picking things up with your toes as an easy way to keep your toes flexible and strong. You can try picking up a pen from the floor or crumpling up a towel on the floor with your toes. You can also use your hands to give your toes a gentle stretch.

Visit us when you first notice the signs of hammertoes and Dr. Kaplan can develop a personalized toe exercise program for you. 

New shoes

High heels or narrow, pointy-toed styles are often to blame for the development of hammertoes. 

Wearing footwear with a tight toe box can force your toes into a cramped, curled position. The more often you wear ill-fitting shoes, the more your toe muscles may tighten and continue to maintain this abnormal position.

Dr. Kaplan can help you choose shoes that give your toes plenty of room. He can also check your foot length and help you identify the right shoe size. Ideally, you should pick a fit approximately half an inch longer than your longest toe.

Foot care

Hammertoes can lead to other foot problems, including corns and calluses. 

These thick, hardened layers of skin form because of the increased pressure and friction your hammertoe causes. Not only can these areas be unsightly, but they can also be extremely uncomfortable. Fortunately, in some cases, if you eliminate the hammertoe, there is a good chance your corns or calluses will disappear on their own.

Dr. Kaplan also develops a foot care plan to help you avoid corns and calluses. That plan might include changing your shoes, adding padding to them, or trying orthotics. Keeping your toes soft and moisturized can help, too.


Dr. Kaplan always explores more conservative treatment options first, but some hammertoes require surgery. 

During this procedure, he removes damaged or injured tissues, repositions your toe, and realigns your joints and tendons. Dr. Kaplan performs hammertoe surgery on an outpatient basis and the procedure usually takes just 15 minutes and comes with minimal downtime. 

Ultimately, you don’t have to live with hammertoes or the discomfort they cause. To explore your treatment options, call either of our offices or book an appointment online today. 

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