Hammertoe Specialist

American Foot & Ankle Specialists

Kriti Puthenpurakal, DPM

Board Certified Podiatrist Foot & Ankle Surgeon located in Naperville, IL & Downer's Grove, IL

Millions of Americans have hammertoe deformities, yet most of these people haven’t received a diagnosis and don’t seek treatment. If you ignore hammertoe and the condition gets worse, it can affect your long-term foot health and development. Podiatrist Kriti Puthenpurakal, DPM, treats hammertoe at her practice at American Foot & Ankle Specialists in Naperville, Illinois. She has years of experience in diagnosing this condition and welcomes patients from all over Northeastern Illinois. Call the practice today to make an appointment or use the online booking tool.

Hammertoe Q&A

What is a hammertoe?

Hammertoe causes a bend to form in the middle joint of the toe. Mallet toe, a similar condition, affects the joint nearest the toenail. Both hammertoe and mallet toe typically affect the second, third, and fourth toes.

The bend in the joint causes the toe to curl downward instead of lying flat and pointing forward. This puts pressure on the toe when you wear shoes, causing further problems.

Hammertoe tends to get worse over time. If you think you might have this condition, seek medical advice right away.

What causes hammertoe?

Hammertoe forms because of an imbalance in the tendons, ligaments, and muscles that hold your toes straight. If your shoes are too tight, they push your toes in an unnaturally bent position. Muscles held in this position long enough tighten and can’t stretch out, even when you’re no longer wearing shoes. 

Other possible causes for hammertoe include:

  • Arthritis
  • Bunions
  • Diabetes
  • Foot trauma
  • Genetics
  • Second toe longer than the big toe
  • High arch
  • Peripheral nerve or spinal cord damage

You're also more likely to develop hammertoe as you get older and if you’re female.

What are the symptoms of hammertoe?

The symptoms of hammertoe typically include:

  • Burning sensation
  • Bend in the toe
  • Corns and calluses
  • Difficulty walking
  • Inability to flex your toes
  • Inflammation
  • Open sores
  • Pain, especially when wearing shoes
  • Redness

Dr. Puthenpurakal has trained in diagnosing hammertoe. If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment with her to get your feet checked out.

What is the treatment for hammertoe?

Depending on the severity of your condition, you can treat hammertoe with conservative methods or surgery.


Avoid shoes that are too small, too tight, or have an extremely high heel. Wider shoes that are deep and roomy with a lower heel prevent your toes from being squashed.

Support aids

Corn cushioning and pads ease pain and prevent a hammertoe from getting worse. Splints and straps can be used to realign the bent toe.


Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen (Advil®) help reduce pain and swelling. Prescribed treatment like corticosteroid injections offers stronger pain relief.

Physical therapy

Toe exercises help strengthen the toe muscles.


Dr. Puthenpurakal can surgically correct your affected toes.

The sooner you and your doctor catch hammertoe, the easier it is to treat. Book an appointment at American Foot & Ankle Specialists today. Call the practice or schedule an appointment online.