Our Services / Hammertoes

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If you wear tight shoes that don’t have arch support or an underlying medical condition like diabetes, you’re also more likely to experience a hammertoe. At Lake Washington Foot and Ankle Clinic, board-certified podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon Vinai Prakash, DPM, offers various treatments for hammertoes, including custom orthotics and surgery. To make an appointment in Kenmore, Washington, call the office or book online today.

What are hammertoes?

A hammertoe causes one or more of your toes to stay bent in a hammerhead-like position. The condition occurs because of an imbalance between the ligaments and tendons that hold your toe straight. 

Any of your toes can become stiff and inflexible, but the condition usually affects the second, third, or fourth toe. Contact Dr. Prakash right away if you regularly experience toe pain that doesn't respond to at-home treatments.

What are the symptoms of hammertoes?

If you have a hammertoe, it’s painful to bend or put weight on your affected toe. You might also notice your toe has corns or calluses –– thick layers of skin that develop when your toe rubs up against your shoes or socks.

Who is at risk of experiencing hammertoes?

Anyone can experience a hammertoe, but several factors may increase your risk, including:

  • Having an abnormally long second toe
  • Experiencing trauma, like a broken or stubbed toe
  • Being a woman
  • Being middle-aged or older

You’re also more likely to experience hammertoes if you have an underlying medical condition like arthritis or diabetes.

How are hammertoes diagnosed?

To diagnose a hammertoe, Dr. Prakash reviews your medical records and asks about your symptoms, including when the pain started, which toe is affected, and if the pain worsens during certain activities, like work or exercise.

Next, Dr. Prakash has you take off your shoes and socks and examines your toes. He gently presses on your affected toe and tries bending it to test its range of motion. Then, Dr. Prakash orders X-rays to assess the alignment of the bones and joints in your feet and toes.

How are hammertoes treated?

Treatment of hammertoes depends on various factors, including the severity of your symptoms, the flexibility of your toe, and your health history. Usually, Dr. Prakash recommends conservative measures, like wearing more comfortable footwear, custom orthotics, or shoe inserts. He might also prescribe at-home stretches and strengthening exercises to support your toe muscles.

If your toe remains bent or painful, surgery might be necessary. During hammertoe surgery, Dr. Prakash uses special tools to release the soft tissues holding your toe in the hooked position.

To explore the various treatment options for hammertoes, make an appointment at Lake Washington Foot and Ankle Clinic by calling the office or clicking the online booking feature today.