About 7 million Americans have hammer toes, making it one of the most common types of foot deformity in the country. A hammer toe causes a permanent bend in one or several of your toes, and it’s most common in the second, third, or fourth toes.

Hammer toes get their name because the condition makes affected toes look like a hammer or claw. Hammer toes develop over time, typically due to a muscle-tendon imbalance in the foot. The longer the hammer toe goes untreated, the tighter your tendons become and the more pronounced it gets.

Hammer toes can be quite painful, bringing symptoms like inflammation, swelling, corns, calluses, and blisters. The good news is that hammer toes are treatable and our team at Performance Footcare PC can help.

Bryon Butts, DPM, specializes in hammer toe treatment with custom orthotics. So if you’ve noticed a toe bending more than it should, now’s the time to learn more about your treatment options.

Do you have a hammer toe?

Hammer toes start small and get more noticeable over time. They are caused by muscle-tendon imbalance or poor foot mechanics, which changes the way the soft tissues in your feet support your body weight when you walk and stand.

You may have a muscle-tendon imbalance due to issues like wearing badly fitting shoes, genetics, or health conditions like diabetes. If left untreated, muscle-tendon imbalance can cause one or more toes to curl into hammer toes.

Some common signs of hammer toe include:

  • Pain on top of affected toe(s)
  • Pain in ball of foot
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Corns, calluses, or blisters on toe(s) 

Dr. Butts and our team can diagnose your condition with a physical exam and medical imaging, if needed.

Custom orthotics for hammer toes

Since hammer toes develop and worsen due to poor foot mechanics, custom orthotics are a very effective way to treat the condition. Orthotics are prescription medical devices, designed for the unique structures and needs of your feet.

Dr. Butts offers a variety of top custom orthotics, and our team works with you to find the type that’s right for you. We evaluate your feet and take detailed measurements, and your orthotics are made in a custom orthotics lab and shipped to our office.

The two main types are functional (rigid) orthotics and accommodative (soft) orthotics. Both types of orthotics can be made in full- or half-length, and in most cases, they fit inside your regular shoes.

Custom orthotics work by aligning the bones of your feet and giving you extra cushioning and support where you need it. They can prevent your hammer toe from getting worse because they help counteract the muscle-tendon imbalance that caused the hammer toe in the first place.

If you have a hammer toe, wearing custom orthotics can reduce foot pain and prevent your hammer toe from getting worse over time.

More hammer toe treatment options to try

Custom orthotics support proper foot mechanics. They’re a great option for many people with hammer toes, but they’re not the only option. Along with custom orthotics, Dr. Butts may recommend a range of other treatments to relieve hammer toe pain.

Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce inflammation and pain. If you have more severe hammer toes, corticosteroid shots could offer longer-lasting pain relief.

If you need to wear shoes that don’t have orthotic inserts, Dr. Butts and our team can teach you taping methods to support your toes. Heel pads and over-the-counter shoe inserts can also offer extra cushioning and support.

Living with painful hammer toes? Contact us to schedule your custom orthotic appointment at Performance Footcare PC.

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