A hammertoe is a contracture or bending of the joints within a toe which causes an obvious deformity that can lead to painful corns or lesions on the toe. At the early stage this deformity is usually flexible and can be corrected with a simple tendon release, but once rigidity sets in then a section of bone will need to be removed to correct the deformity. Hammertoes are not necessarily painful; they usually become tender when shoes are rubbing and irritating the toes. Like most conditions the tendency to form hammertoes is inherited. If they do not hurt then there is no reason to rush into surgery. Any invasive procedure has risks that need to be considered, although I have performed thousands of surgeries on toes with overall excellent results, there are always the exceptions that have less than stellar outcomes. Although the chance of a poor outcome is minimal it is still a possibility so always consider all risks in evaluating a surgical treatment. Like most medical conditions, the earlier a hammertoe is treated the easier and simpler treatments may work.