Today, I'm going to talk to you about hammertoes. The first thing to understand is how many bones there are in a toe. Like the hand, there are three bones in each of your toes. They're a little smaller, but we have the same bones that are called your phalanges. They're supposed to lay flat when you walk. And as you come forward, you propel off the end of your toes.

What Causes Hammertoe?

A hammertoe occurs when instead of laying flat, we start to develop a knuckling in the middle of the toe.

  • This can be caused by over pulling on top with the tendons that you see sticking out in my hand. The very same tendons by virtually the same name exists in your foot.
  • Clawing downward underneath your toe, the flexor tendons overpulling, or both.

What Are the Risk Factors for Hammertoe?

What causes your toe bones not to lay flat as you walk forward?

  • High-arched feet. It's common in people with high arched feet because the bones are so angulated from the middle of the foot that it's just that much easier for the toes to become clawed.
  • Flatter feet with collapsing arches. When people have a tendency to collapse their arch, as the arch collapses, the toes claw up.

In both cases, hammertoes can form that are initially flexible and can be manually reduced. But eventually hammertoes can become rigid causing the development of corns on top, corns on the tips, and further pressure across the ball of your foot.

So if you see your toes clawing, and knuckling, and developing pain, come on in and let's evaluate what the cause of those hammertoes is, and develop a plan of care to solve your problem.

To learn more about hammertoes, visit us here!

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.