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North Andover (978) 686-7623
Tewksbury (978) 640-1010

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Flexible and Rigid Hammertoe

Hammertoe is an ailment that affects the toes in the feet. Specifically, the second, third or fourth toes are targeted with this condition and this can happen due to genetics. Patients who have this ailment notice their toes bend downward, and can resemble a hammer. It may also develop from wearing shoes that do not have ample room for the toes to move freely in. This may cause a muscle imbalance, and common symptoms can include swelling and pain, and it can be difficult to walk. This condition develops gradually, and the toes are flexible when first noticed. Prompt medical treatment is necessary to prevent the toes from becoming rigid, because at that point treatment may be difficult. Patients can find mild relief when different shoes are worn, preferably with a low heel and plenty of room that can accommodate the toes. This can be followed by practicing specific exercises that can strengthen the toes. If you have developed hammertoe, it is suggested that you speak with a podiatrist who can guide you toward the treatment method that is right for you.

Hammertoes can be a painful condition to live with. For more information, contact one of our podiatrists of Foot Health Center of Merrimack Valley. Our doctors will answer any of your foot- and ankle-related questions.


Hammertoe is a foot deformity that occurs due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. It can be caused by the type of shoes you wear, your foot structure, trauma, and certain disease processes.


  • Painful and/or difficult toe movement
  • Swelling
  • Joint stiffness
  • Calluses/Corns
  • Physical deformity

Risk Factors

  • Age – The risk of hammertoe increases with age
  • Sex – Women are more likely to have hammertoe compared to men
  • Toe Length – You are more likely to develop hammertoe if your second toe is longer than your big toe
  • Certain Diseases – Arthritis and diabetes may make you more likely to develop hammertoe


If you have hammertoe, you should change into a more comfortable shoe that provides enough room for your toes. Exercises such as picking up marbles may strengthen and stretch your toe muscles. Nevertheless, it is important to seek assistance from a podiatrist in order to determine the severity of your hammertoe and see which treatment option will work best for you.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact one of our offices located in North Andover, and Tewksbury, MA . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.

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