A hammertoe deformity usually causes pain because the base of the toe points upward and the end of the toe points down. The knuckle or the end of the toe rubs on the shoe and causes a painful callus. In immune-compromised (i.e. diabetes) patient’s, such a callus can form into an open wound (ulcer). The contracted joints can also become stiff and painful. Hammertoes may become dislocated and rub into other toes.
Treatment of the symptoms of hammertoes usually begin with high toe-box or diabetic shoes, debridement of calluses and padding. If symptoms do not respond to conservative remedies, surgery may be recommended to straighten the toe and excise the callus. The most common surgical procedure is arthroplasty (removal of a small section of the bone from the affected joint).