A hammertoe occurs when there is a contracture (bending) that occurs at one or both joints of the toe. Hammertoes can become painful when the abnormal bending puts pressure on the toes while wearing shoes. While there can be many causes for hammertoes, the most common is related to a muscular/tendon imbalance and a person’s foot type. Hammertoes may start out as a minor problem, but they can get worse over time eventually causing more irritation and inflammation. In the most advanced cases, irritation from hammertoes can create an open wound which can become infected. Many times non-surgical measures can be taken to alleviate the discomfort from hammertoes, but when the toe becomes rigid, very painful, or when an open sore develops, surgical treatment can become necessary.