Shoes too tight? They might cause painful Hammertoe

The foot is a complex structure made up of 26 bones and 33 joints, all connected through a network of muscles, ligaments, and nerves. With each step taken, the foot experience excessive force from carrying the weight of the body, oftentimes leading to painful injuries that are accelerated by natural wear-and-tear. It is no wonder that 75 percent of all Americans will experience foot problems at one point or another in their lifetimes. Some of these foot problems can be caused by wearing poor fitting shoes. Hammertoe is one of them.

Hammertoes are most frequently caused by structural problems in the toe or from wearing poor fitting shoes. It causes the middle joint to bend. It is important to diagnose and treat hammertoe early because the condition tends to become worse over time. If left untreated, hammertoe can require surgery.

Your toes are part of your forefoot. They help you balance, walk, and move. Your big toe contains two bones. Your second through fifth toes contain three bones. Hammertoe results when the middle joint is bent.


Hammertoe commonly develops because of structural changes that take place over time in the muscles and tendons that bend the toes. People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, are at risk for developing hammertoe. It can be an inherited condition for some people. Other causes include trauma and wearing shoes that are too tight, narrow, or have high heels. The toe next to the big toe is most frequently affected by hammertoe.


The symptoms of hammertoe are progressive, meaning that they get worse over time. Hammertoe causes the middle joint on the second, third, fourth, or fifth toes to bend. The affected toe may be painful or irritated, especially when you wear shoes. Areas of thickened skin may develop between, on top of, or at the end of your toes. Thickened skin may also appear on the bottom of your toe or the ball of your foot. It may be difficult to find a pair of shoes that is comfortable to wear.


Your podiatrist can diagnose hammertoe by reviewing your medical history and examining your foot.  X-rays are typically done.


There are many non-surgical treatments to help relieve symptoms of hammertoe. The first step for many people is wearing the right size and type of shoe. Low-heeled shoes with a boxy or roomy toe area are helpful. Cushioned insoles, customized orthopedic inserts, and pads can provided relief as well. Splints or straps may be used to help correct toe position.  Your podiatrist may show you toe stretches and exercises to perform, and can safely remove corns and calluses. You should not try to remove them at home.


Surgery is used when other types of treatment fail to relieve symptoms or for advanced cases of hammertoe. There are several types of surgery to treat hammertoe. A small piece of bone may be removed from the joint. The toe joint may be fused to straighten it. Surgical hardware, such as a pin and screws may be used to hold the bones in place while they heal. Other types of surgery involve removing skin (wedging) or correcting muscles and tendons to balance the joint.

If your feet re causing you problems, we encourage you to call us at 239-592-4955 to schedule an appointment with one of our foot and ankle specialists.
Dr. Wallace honored as one of Gulfshore Business' 
40 Under 40

We won't give away his age, if you really want to know, read the article. But we do congratulate Dr. Wallace on achieving this distinction as one of Southwest Florida's young leaders!

"Since moving to Naples in 2014 Dr. Wallace has progressed to being a very well-respected orthopedic surgeon in the Southwest Florida area-especially at his younger age," says his nominator. 

Wallace has also been at the ready for numerous athletes in a variety of sports. Commitments include head team surgeon for Ave Maria collegiate and club sport (done pro-bono), the USTA/ITF World Tennis Tour Tournament in Naples, Everblades Hockey team, and the GBE Shootout golf tournament in Naples.

Wallace and his wife, Lisa Fenda Wallace, a trainer at Orange Theory Fitness, have a son, Tristan. They also have two Great Danes and are huge Cleveland sports fans.

I'll take mine with sprinkles...
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-Adrienne Podolak

"Thank you for the donut, but would you mind if I called in my order the night before surgery next time? Best experience ever!! I hated to leave."
-John Goetz

"The staff is very friendly and super responsive. They put you at ease and explain each procedure thoroughly. They make you feel like a family member!! Thanks!"
-Susie Leith

"Comparing your staff and services with New York, I am pleased to have my medical concerns addressed here - you're A1!"
- Norman Chesler

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