Hammertoe Treatment

Knoxville’s Best Choice for Hammertoe Care in Eastern Tennessee

Our Specialty

What is Hammertoe?

A deformity of the second, third, or fourth toe is called a “hammertoe.” In this case, the middle joint of the toe is bent, making it look like a hammer. At first, hammer toes are flexible and can be fixed with simple steps. If you don’t treat them, though, they can become rigid and need surgery.


A hammer toe hurts, especially when you move it or when you put shoes on it. Some other signs could be:

  • Getting swollen or red
  • Having trouble straightening the toe
  • Having trouble walking
  • A corn or callus on top of the middle joint of the toe or the tip of the toe


Hammer toe is caused by an imbalance in the muscles, which puts pressure on the tendons and joints of the toes, often caused by shoes that are too big or too small. If the toe is bent in the same place for too long, the muscles and joints get tight and can’t move.


In the early stages of hammer toe, when the joint is still flexible, simple, non-surgical steps are usually enough to fix the problem.

Nonsurgical treatments include:

  • Changes in footwear – It’s important to avoid shoes that are tight, narrow, and have high heels. Shoes should be half an inch longer than your longest toe, which for many people is the second toe, and have a soft, roomy toe area
  • Toe exercises – You can stretch and strengthen the muscles in your foot with certain exercises. You can gently stretch your toes by hand or pick things up with your toes
  • Over-the-counter solutions – Pain can be eased by using straps, cushions, or non-medicated corn pads

For more severe cases, surgical treatment may be needed to help treat the issue:

  • Tendon lengthening – Patients who have a flexible toe joint can often get better by lengthening the tendons that are causing the joint to be out of balance
  • Tendon transfer – Some people with a flexible toe joint may benefit from a treatment that involves moving tendons from the bottom of the toe to the top of the toe to assist in pulling the joint into a straight position
  • Joint fusion – Patients with a stiff toe joint may have tendon lengthening and arthrodesis (joint fusion) done at the same time. During this procedure, a small piece of bone is removed from the joint of a toe so that the toe can move as far as it needs to. Then, an outside wire or pin and/or an inside plate will be placed to hold the bones together while they heal


Toe stiffness, swelling, and redness may last 4-6 weeks after surgery. While the toe heals, you should minimize your activity. Elevating your foot will accelerate recovery and lessen pain, and your toe may be a different length than before.

Reach out to us here at TOA and see one of our foot and ankle specialists to find a solution for your condition today. Give us a call at (865)690-4861 to schedule an appointment at one of our many locations.

Our Foot And Ankle Surgeons

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