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Hammertoes- Symptoms, Types & Treatments - The Sajid Shariff Clinic

What are Hammertoes and how can they be treated?

Book a free Intro call today to discuss your treatment options for Hammertoes

The Sajid Shariff clinic is the leading, private orthopaedic Kent-based clinic that can help, listen and advise on a wide range of treatments for Hammertoes. Book a free Intro call with our Medical Secretary to discuss your Hammertoes and treatment options available.

What are Hammertoes?

A hammertoe, claw toe and mallet toe is a foot deformity in which a toe has an abnormal bend in its middle joint and points downwards giving it the hammertoe name. It can be an extremely painful and uncomfortable condition for some. Often, a callus or corn will form on top of the toe is due to consistent rubbing against the inside of shoes. Hammertoe is a common condition and women are much more likely to develop it, mainly due to the shoes they wear.

What causes Hammertoes?

Hammertoes form when there is an imbalance in the surrounding muscles, tendons, or ligaments that normally keep the toe straight. The pressure from the imbalance causes the toes to become misshapen and point upward at the joint which forces the toe to become bent rather than flat.

Causes and risk factors include:

  • Shoes: Tight, high heeled and ill-fitting shoes are a cause of many foot problems including hammertoes. Ill-fitting shoes cause the toes to sit in a crowded and curled position. Over time, even when not wearing the shoes they will proceed to remain bent.
  • Certain diseases: Conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and other neuromuscular diseases are causal factors in developing a hammertoe.
  • Imbalance or trauma: Toe instability or the trauma of breaking the toe can cause it to deform and lead to hammertoe. 
  • Age: The risk of hammertoe increases with age.

When a hammertoe first develops the toe may remain quite flexible and active but over time it will contract and stiffen. It will become very painful, especially to walk on because of the constant rubbing against the inside of the shoes which will inevitably cause painful corns and calluses.

Symptoms of Hammertoes



If your toe has any of the following then you should seek medical advice from a specialist foot & ankle doctor:

  • Soreness, redness or swollen
  • Unable to straighten
  • Painful when walking with shoes on
  • Has an abnormal bend in the middle joint

Although it is nothing life threatening, it will worsen over time so it’s important to get it checked and treated as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms.

Kent’s Holistic Foot & Ankle specialists

The Sajid Shariff clinic is a private orthopaedic clinic based in SE London and Kent that specialises in surgical and non-surgical treatment of foot and ankle conditions including hammertoes, ankle sprains, bunions, plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis.

Keep an eye on the shape of your feet; if you see changes see a doctor to find out if there are any recommendations to prevent hallux valgus from forming

Strengthen your feet by exercising them

Wear shoes that fit your feet well and offer good support

Try to avoid shoes that have a heel or pointed toe

Treatment for Hammertoes

Hammertoes are easy and quick to diagnose just by a physical examination. An X-ray may be performed to further evaluate the bones and joints. Treatment will differ depending on the severity of the hammertoe. If it is caught early enough and the toes are still quite flexible and not too painful then the best recommendation may be to simply change shoes to a much better, wider fitting pair that’s not going to curl or crowd your toes. Sometimes custom made shoe in-soles may be necessary to aid with keeping your toes in the most comfortable position possible when wearing shoes. Toe exercises and massages will also stop them from stiffening up and keeps the flexibility that stops them from bending.

Surgery for Hammertoes

Hammertoe surgery

After conservative methods have failed then surgical intervention may be recommended.

Corrective surgery for hammertoe and claw toe will depend on the exact problem with your toes. It may involve releasing or lengthening tendons, putting joints back into place, straightening a toe and changing the shape of a bone. It also may be necessary to fix the toes in place with wires or tiny screws.

Your doctor will talk you through in detail what will happen during surgery along with the possible risks and complications.


Book a call with one of our team

Find out how we can help you with your Hammertoes with both non-surgery and surgical treatments. Simply fill in this contact form and our Medical Secretary will be in touch to schedule a time that works for you.
  • If you wish to proceed after your Introductory call with one of our team, a face to face consultation with Dr Sajid Shariff costs £200.
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