A hammertoe refers to a deformity of the second, third or fourth toe in which the toe is bent to the side at the middle joint. While a hammertoe may be corrected conservatively at first, it may begin to cause pain or discomfort and become fixed in its position if not treated. At this point, surgery may become necessary.
Hammertoe is almost always caused by restrictive shoes. Pointed toe shoes or high heels can bend your toes unnaturally, so wide toed shoes are optimal for avoiding hammertoe. While you may want to where your fancy shoes for that big meeting, switch over to comfortable sneakers while at your desk.
For mild cases of hammertoe, conservative treatment usually helps straighten the toe. Wearing soft, roomy shoes is key. Exercises to strengthen your toe muscle will also help straighten the toe. These could include funny tasks, like picking up socks or small items by gripping them with your toes. Your podiatrist may also prescribe straps or cushions to keep your toe joints aligned while wearing shoes as well as relieve any pain. Following your podiatrist’s advice for a few months is usually sufficient to correct hammertoe.
If these methods fail, your podiatrist may recommend surgery. Hammertoe correction is an outpatient procedure and the operative plan will depend on your specific deformity. After surgery, you will need to avoid putting pressure on your foot for a while. A physical therapy program is also helpful in avoiding stiffness and regaining range of motion so you don’t walk improperly.
Dina Tsentserensky, DPM and Oliver Zong, DPM are experienced podiatrists who treat all foot related conditions.They, along with the rest of the orthopedists and physiatrists and NY Bone and Joint Specialists, provide the highest standard of care in NYC. Years of experience and excellence have made our practice the top rated in New York City and New Jersey. Our practice has one goal: a better quality of life for our patients.