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Hammertoes Specialist

The Foot Care Group

Board Certified Podiatrist located in Libertyville, Hinsdale & Chicago, IL

Hammertoe is a type of podiatric deformity that develops over time, often because of ill-fitting shoes or a natural muscle and tendon imbalance within the toe. At The Foot Care Group in Hinsdale, Libertyville, and the Streeterville community of Chicago, Illinois, Steven Sharlin, DPM, specializes in treating mild, moderate, and severe hammertoe using a variety of advanced treatment methods and lifestyle recommendations. Treatment for hammertoe is most effective when the condition is in its early stages, so don’t hesitate to call the office or book your appointment online today.

Hammertoes Q & A

What is hammertoe?

Hammertoe is a podiatric condition that occurs when one of the joints in your second, third, fourth, or fifth toe is chronically bent. It often happens because of the use of ill-fitting shoes like high heels with pointed toes or shoes that are just too small for your feet. 

If you have hammertoe, you might not realize it for a long time. It usually starts out mild and gets worse over time as the joint gets weaker. In the early stages, you may be able to reverse the condition with nonsurgical treatments and easy lifestyle changes. However, severe hammertoe may require surgery to fix. 

What are the symptoms of hammertoe?

Hammertoe doesn’t always just cause a change in the appearance of your foot. Due to the muscular imbalance associated with the condition, you may experience:

  • Toe pain
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Corns
  • Calluses
  • Open sores

Hammertoe changes the structure of the muscles and tendons within the affected toe. Over time, it can also cause neurological changes. Standing or continuing to wear shoes that fit poorly can aggravate the joints or certain areas of skin, causing skin complications like corns, calluses, and even open sores. 

What are my treatment options for hammertoe?

Dr. Sharlin performs a full assessment of your hammertoe to determine its severity and plan an effective treatment. He might take X-rays as part of your evaluation to see the full extent of the structural changes in your foot. He then plans your treatment, which may include:

Footwear changes

In mild cases, you can effectively treat hammertoe by changing your footwear to be more accommodating of your foot size and shape. Dr. Sharlin might recommend buying wider or longer shoes and avoiding heels higher than two inches. 

Devices to use in the shoe

Custom orthotic devices can make a big difference for the muscle and tendon imbalances that come with hammertoe. Dr. Sharlin might also recommend splints or straps for realignment or pads for the resulting corns and calluses.  


Oral or injectable medications can help manage the pain and inflammation that often come with hammertoe. Dr. Sharlin might recommend over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications or in-office corticosteroid injections for this purpose.


You might need surgery to treat a hammertoe if it’s particularly advanced and causes severe pain, rigidity, or open sores. 

If you notice that one or more of your toes are permanently curved, call The Foot Care Group or book an appointment online to explore treatments for hammertoe today.