A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Foot Health: Explaining hammertoe and exposing three of the most common myths surrounding it

By Dr. Amy Barko
Special to KyForward

There are three things that we constantly get asked in the office.

What is a hammertoe? Why did I get this hammertoe? Do I have to have surgery?

What is a hammertoe? 

A hammertoe is a condition where the muscles and ligaments surrounding the toe joint are out of alignment, causing the toe to become stuck in a bent, or “hammered” position. These can cause pain, which may be aggravated by shoe gear.

Don’t worry – a Podiatrist can treat hammertoes of all shapes and sizes.

Myth #1 – ALL hammertoes are painful

This is NOT true. Many people have hammertoes and don’t even realize it. If your hammertoe is not painful, usually no surgical intervention is necessary. Modifying your shoes can help a lot for those non-painful hammertoes.

Myth #2 – Hammertoe surgery takes months to heal

Again NOT true. Most hammertoe surgery has a four-week recovery BUT, some surgery can even be done in-office. For example, for those painful hammertoes, we can do a simple in-office surgical procedure that takes about 20 minutes in our own surgery suite and has only a week recovery time. Patients love this option.

Myth #3 – You caused your hammertoes

NOT true. Most hammertoes are hereditary and have a lot to do with your foot structure. You CAN exacerbate your issues by wearing improper shoes, however.

Your Podiatrist can help you decide if you have hammertoes and treat them conservatively or discuss whether you a surgical candidate.

Dr. Amy Barko, CWSP, is an associate at Lexington Podiatry

For more Foot Health columns, click here.

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One Comment

  1. David Sables says:

    To clarify, Most hammer toes are not hereditary. But yes the faulty foot structure in the foot which is hereditary can lead to hammertoes. That is hammertoes like bunions can develop from hereditarily malaligned foot structure

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