Best Ways to Prevent Hammertoe

Hammertoes are toe deformities that can lead to permanent flexion of your toe, which requires surgery. However, there are ways to avoid hammertoes altogether. Keep reading to learn how to prevent hammertoes to avoid foot surgery.

Developing a hammertoe probably isn’t on your to-do list — but if you aren’t careful, you could end up with one or more painful hammertoes on your feet. 

The shoes you wear are one of the most vital aspects of preventing hammertoes in the first place. There are other prevention strategies as well to ensure you don’t develop this painful condition. 

Dr. David Waters and Dr. Evan Lenertz are two highly experienced foot and ankle surgeons offering hammertoe treatment at their practice, Platte River Foot & Ankle Surgeons. If you already have a hammertoe, we offer cutting-edge treatments to alleviate your hammertoe and symptoms. 

What is a hammertoe?

A hammertoe is a condition that affects either your second, third, or fourth toes on your feet. It happens when your toe bends at the middle joint and becomes stuck in a claw-like position after a while. 

There are several symptoms related to hammertoes, some of which include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Difficulty straightening the toe
  • Callus or corn formation

Hammertoes are the result of a problem with the muscles in your feet. The muscles work together to allow you to straighten and curl your toes — but when there’s an issue, and your toe stays bent, it puts pressure on the tendons in your toes. 

The pressure on the tendons and the toe joint makes it hard to straighten the hammertoe after long periods of being bent. 

Hammertoe prevention

Hammertoes are often the result of improperly fitted footwear that puts pressure on the muscles and tendons in your toes. Hammertoe prevention starts with your choice of shoes. Here are some tips to help you prevent hammertoes from forming: 

Avoid narrow shoes

Shoes with a tight or narrow toe box put pressure on your toes. When choosing a shoe, make sure you have about a half inch between the tip of your shoe and your longest toe. 

Don’t wear high heels

High heels lead to various food conditions, including hammertoes. If you need to wear high heels, choose those that are less than two inches tall and have a wider toe box. 

Check your feet

Hammertoes form over time, which is why you should check your feet daily. Checking your feet is vital, especially when you have diabetes. 

Any condition that leads to nerve damage in your feet or poor circulation warrants regular foot checks to ensure you catch any issues, including hammertoes, early on. 

Carefully select your shoes

A lot goes into choosing the perfect shoe, especially if you want to prevent hammertoes. For instance, select a shoe that’s comfortable to wear all day long. You should also ensure you have good arch support in your shoe. 

Measure your feet when you’re ready for a new pair of shoes. Get a pair that fits at the store and feels comfortable while you’re walking around. You want to avoid buying tight shoes and hope they’ll stretch. 

What if I already have a hammertoe?

If you already have a hammertoe, you can take steps to prevent the condition from worsening. Our providers give you the tools to ease your hammertoe symptoms to avoid surgery. These tips include: 

Change your shoes

If your shoes contribute to your hammertoes, switching them out is one of the best things you can do. Our team helps you determine what shoe is best for you and provides orthotics to help you keep your hammertoe from getting any worse. 

Foot exercises

Specific foot exercises help you strengthen the muscles in your foot that are causing problems with your toe joints. Our team provides you with specialized activities, including towel curls, to keep your hammertoe symptoms under control. 


You can get corn pads, straps, or cushions that relieve pain from your hammertoe. Our team can provide you with the best options for the over-the-counter options that are available to help you with your hammertoes.  

To get expert help for your hammertoe, call the Platte River Foot & Ankle Surgeons today at one of the convenient offices in Nebraska. You may also request a consultation on the website.

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