Many people think their hammertoes are just a strange or unsightly condition, but some people with this condition might have more to worry about than taking their shoes off in public. 

The most common cause of hammertoes is wearing improperly fitting shoes. A shoe that is too small is typically too short for your foot, which causes your toes to bunch up in the toe box of the shoe. If your toes are curled up for the majority of the day, day after day, the muscles in your toes can shorten and become permanently bent. 

However, hammertoes may not be a standalone condition. They may be a side effect of a larger health problem that affects the muscles and joints, such as:

  • Osteoarthritis. Arthritis may cause the toe joints to swell, bending the toes downward.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. This chronic inflammatory condition can bend the fingers and toes at strange angles, causing hammertoes as well as calluses and bunions. 
  • Stroke. Stroke victims often experience neurological imbalances as they recover. Since the toes are controlled by the muscles in the foot, a permanently contracted foot muscle can pull them into a claw-like position.
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. This genetic neurological disorder causes a progressive loss of muscle tissue. As the muscles in the feet begin to atrophy, the whole foot begins to wither and curl downward.
  • Diabetes. A common side effect of diabetes is poor blood flow to the extremities. In this case, poor circulation in the feet may cause the tendons in the toes to shorten.

The Philadelphia podiatrists at Healthmark Foot and Ankle Associates can tell you what is causing your hammertoe deformity, and we can work with you to discover a course of treatment to fit your lifestyle. Call us today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to set up a consultation.

Want more information on taking care of your feet? Click the link on this page and we’ll send you a FREE copy of our book The Foot Is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.