See a Hammertoes Specialist in Chattanooga
Let’s find the right treatment for your hammertoes. Our board-certified foot doctor serves English- and Spanish-speaking residents in the greater Chattanooga area. Book your visit today.
You will be attended by Dr. Maria Pacheco, DPM, a foot and ankle doctor certified with the American Board of Podiatric Medicine. She’s also certified in Foot Surgery by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.
Dr. Pacheco has helped treat a variety of hammertoes cases in patients in and out of Chattanooga. With almost a decade of experience, she will determine the viable treatment to get you back on your feet.
The entire Chattanooga Foot & Ankle clinic genuinely cares for all patients. Our team, more than anyone, understands that foot conditions make even the simplest errands difficult. Our podiatrist will work with you for the best outcomes.
Learn more about your foot doctor in Chattanooga.
Dr. Maria Pacheco
“Everything that I have heard bout Dr. Pacheco is true – she is professional and very kind and interested in your condition!”
Hammertoes: Your Condition Explained
Hammertoes are a deformity of the joints of your little toes (all toes except the big toe). This condition causes the little toes to abnormally bend at the middle, resembling a hammer. Whereas normal toes lay flat, hammertoes are curled.
This condition is caused by a contracture or a condition where the muscles, tendons, or other tissues shorten and harden, leading to deformities in the joints. There are three types of hammertoes according to severity:
- Flexible Hammertoes – Hammertoes in the early stages still allow the toes to move at the joints.
- Semi-Rigid Hammertoes – Semi-rigid hammertoes maintains a level of flexibility, but they’re starting to stiffen.
- Rigid Hammertoes – Rigid hammertoes could no longer move. In this case, the tendons and soft tissues have likely hardened.
We strongly recommend seeing our specialist as soon as you notice symptoms. Hammertoes won’t go away on their own; instead, they may grow worse without intervention.
The distinct symptom of hammertoes is abnormally curled toes. Other signs include:
- Corns and Calluses. These are a buildup of skin on the areas where the toes rub against each other or your shoes.
- Pain. You may experience pain and discomfort in and around the toe joints, especially when you walk.
- Inflammation. You may see swelling and redness around the joints.
- Stiffness. You can’t flex or wiggle your toes.
- Open Sores. In serious cases, open sores may develop.
Common causes of hammertoes include:
- Genetic Predisposition. Some people are born with a higher likelihood of developing hammertoes. For instance, flat feet may lead to hammertoes because the foot tries to stabilize against a flat arch. Meanwhile, feet with high arches may also develop hammertoes because of the abnormal balance of toe muscles.
- Ill-Fitting Shoes. Footwear with narrow toe boxes or have little to no arch support may cause hammertoes in the long run. These types of shoes put severe pressure on the toe joints. For instance, a narrow shoe with a pointed end pushes the little toes into a bent position.
- Trauma. Stubbing, breaking, or injuring a toe increases the chances of developing hammertoes, although rare.
- Neuromuscular Diseases. Neurological changes in the foot can make a person more vulnerable to hammertoes.
Risk factors include:
- Age. The older you are, the higher your chances of developing hammertoes.
- Sex. Women are more likely to develop hammertoes than men.
- Toe length. People whose second toes are longer than their big toes are at a higher risk.
These treatment methods are general information only; these do not constitute medical advice.
Please book a visit with Dr. Pacheco so she can determine the appropriate treatment for you. We may conduct physical exams and x-ray tests to assess your condition.
Conservative or non-surgical treatment addresses hammertoes in the early stages when the joint is still flexible. Our podiatrist may prescribe:
- Proper Footwear. Dr. Pacheco may instruct you to get rid of footwear that puts your toes in an unnatural position. These include footwear with pointed toes, narrow toe boxes, high heels, and more. Instead, you’ll be advised to wear shoes with low heels and a roomy toe box (extends half an inch past your toes).
- Pads and Orthotic Devices. Our podiatrist may recommend shoe inserts or pads that protect corns and calluses from rubbing against the shoes. Your condition may also require custom orthotic devices that reposition the toes and control muscle and tendon imbalance.
- Medication. Depending on your condition, Dr. Pacheco may prescribe medication to help reduce the pain and inflammation.
- Foot Exercises. The podiatrist may recommend specific foot exercises that strengthen the muscles of your toes.
Surgical treatments are reserved for serious cases of hammertoes — ones where the toes have grown rigid or developed open sores. Surgery for hammertoes is often performed outpatient, which means you don’t have to stay at a hospital.
Surgical options include:
- Tendon Transfer. The foot and ankle surgeon attaches the tendons under your toes to the top of your toe. This helps straighten it out.
- Arthrodesis. The surgeon removes a small part of a bone in the toe joint, extending the toe. She then inserts a pin to hold the bones in place while they fuse.
- Arthroplasty. The surgeon cuts the ends of the affected bones to straighten the crooked toe.
- Basal Phalangectomy. The surgeon removes the base of the bone under the crooked toe to straighten it out.
Hammertoes vs. Mallet Toes vs. Claw Toes
Take note that hammertoes are different from mallet toes and clawtoes, depending on the affected joint. Each of your little toes has three joints:
- The first joint, metatarsophalangeal joint, or the joint nearest the base of the toe
- The second joint, proximal interphalangeal joint, or the joint in the middle of the toe
- The third joint, distal phalangeal joint, or the joint closest to the toenail
These three conditions affect different joints in your little toes.
- Hammertoes cause a bend in the second or middle joint.
- Mallet toes cause a bend in the third joint.
- Clawtoes cause a bend in at least two of these joints.
Whatever your suspected condition is, please book a visit to our clinic. Our podiatrist will provide a proper diagnosis.
If you suspect that you’re vulnerable to hammertoes, keep these in mind.
- Avoid shoes with narrow and pointed-toe boxes.
- Feet tend to swell throughout the day, so it’s best to fit and buy shoes at the end of the day.
- If one foot is bigger than the other, buy shoes that fit the bigger foot.
- Perform regular foot exercises to keep the muscles strong and flexible.
Find Out the Right Treatment for Your Hammertoes
Book a visit with Dr. Pacheco to prevent your hammertoes from worsening.
About Our Chattanooga Clinic
Years of Experience
Feedback from the people we have had the privilege to help:
"She truly care for her patients! Dr. Pacheco takes her time with each patient, as if she has all day! She is very thorough in her work, always has a smile on her face!!"
If she had not diagnosed my Charcot Foot, hospital would have sent me home. I could not walk and my bones were breaking. Thanking God for sending her our way.
"Awesome staff and doctor. They take time time and care for their patients. To explain to you they way that you understand"
Dr. Pacheco is always professional. She is knowledgeable, friendly, and explains things in a way the average patient can understand.
Dr. Pacheco is an intelligent and understanding doctor. She improved my problem in a short amount of time. She is very nice and friendly.
Years of Experience
9 Years of Experience treating foot and ankle ailments of all types
We look forward to helping you next!
The Chattanooga Foot & Ankle Clinic creates a calm and comfortable environment where our patients feel at ease. Hammertoes are a difficult condition, and we want to minimize your stress and discomfort.
Advice for Patients
Every year, the medical field for foot and ankle conditions sees several developments. Our medical team keeps abreast of these latest changes to provide our patients with the right treatment plan.
Rehabilitation of the Foot and Ankle
We don’t want hammertoes to stop you from living life to the fullest. Our goal is to help you recover quickly through the appropriate treatment. Additionally, we’ll explain the procedure in detail.
Empathy for Your Condition
Our practice upholds kindness, empathy, and compassion, regardless of the type and severity of your condition. Our patients’ concerns deserve our full attention. We make you feel that you are heard.
Relieve the Discomfort of Your Hammertoes
Schedule a consultation, so Dr. Pacheco can assess and treat your hammertoes.