Hammer Toes Specialist

Ankle & Foot Specialists

Podiatrists & Foot and Ankle Specialists located in Norwood Park, Chicago, IL

Hammertoe is a toe abnormality in which one or more of your small toes bends down. In rare cases, hammertoe can occur in your big toe, as well. Hammertoes can be quite uncomfortable and cause issues with walking. At Ankle & Foot Specialists in Chicago, Illinois, hammertoe specialists James Elipas, DPM, and John Flanagan, DPM, offer both conservative care and surgery to correct hammertoes efficiently. Call the office in Norwood Park or use online booking to set up your appointment today.

Hammer Toes

What do hammertoes look like?

Hammertoes bend down from the middle joint, creating the look of a hammer. They're more common in your second, third, and fourth toes, but sometimes occur in your big and little toes. Hammertoes may occur at the same time as bunions, corns, and calluses, which complicates the problem and makes it even more difficult to walk comfortably. 

Why do I have hammertoe?

Hammertoes develop with muscle imbalance in your toes. This imbalance creates extra strain on your toe tendons and joints, which triggers the joint contraction. Muscle imbalance can be caused by:

Tight shoes

When you wear shoes that force your toes together on a daily basis, muscle imbalance can develop and trigger hammertoe. 

Joint disease

Diseases that affect your joints, like arthritis, can cause hammertoe because they change your joints. This leads to changes in your surrounding muscles and could result in hammertoe.


Any kind of trauma involving your toes, like stubbing or jamming your toes, could potentially lead to hammertoe.


Through genetics, you could have a foot type that's prone to hammertoe. 

There's not always a clear cause for hammertoe, but for treatment, it's not necessary to definitively know the underlying cause. Ankle & Foot Specialists can identify a cause, if possible, and then deliver effective corrective care.

How do you treat hammertoe?

Ankle & Foot Specialists treats hammertoe in several different ways to ensure the optimal result. It's easiest to treat hammertoes when they're still flexible, which means you can flatten your toes with some effort. For flexible hammertoes, treatment may include:

  • Custom orthotics
  • Padding
  • Taping
  • Prescribed exercises

Flexible hammertoes usually respond well to conservative care. 

If you have rigid hammertoes, which means that you can't move the joint at all, you may need surgery to remove excess bone and correct proper toe alignment. 

To prevent hammertoes from coming back, Ankle & Foot Specialists can also recommend some simple lifestyle changes like switching to shoes with a wider toe box. 

Don't let hammertoe make you hobble around in pain when Ankle & Foot Specialists can help. Call the office or use the online appointment tool to arrange your visit today.