Hammertoes often become progressively more painful and can affect your ability to walk in comfort. Before your hammertoe starts affecting your quality of life, seek help from one of the board-certified podiatrists at City Podiatry in New York City. They can provide accurate diagnosis and assessment of your condition and deliver the most up-to-date, advanced treatments to reduce your symptoms. If your toes are causing you pain, call the Midtown Manhattan office or schedule an appointment online today.

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What are hammertoes?

Hammertoes are raised, circular bumps on one or more of your toes. They’re normally found on the four smaller toes rather than the big toe. Hammertoes can be painful and restrict your ability to walk comfortably, and they may cause pain when you attempt to move your toes.

You may experience swelling in your toes, and they may get quite red. Patients often experience a burning sensation on top or in between their toes as the hammertoe develops. People with hammertoes are also more likely to develop corns, which are hard calluses on the toes.

What causes hammertoes?

Hammertoes can develop due to problems with the structure of your foot, such as:

  • Having a second toe that’s longer than your big toe
  • Damaging toe joints by breaking, stubbing, or jamming the toes
  • Having flat feet or high arches

Hammertoes can also form if you have certain medical conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, and some neurological conditions. There’s a genetic component involved as well, so you’re more likely to develop hammertoes if other members of your family have them.

Wearing ill-fitting footwear or shoes that force your feet into unnatural positions, such as high heels, increases your risk of developing hammertoes, particularly if you have a genetic predisposition.

What treatments are available for hammertoes?

The first action you should take is to obtain well-fitting, supportive footwear with soft uppers that accommodate your foot more comfortably and prevent your hammertoes from getting any worse. Your podiatrist at City Podiatry can also create custom orthotics to fit inside your shoes, which support your foot correctly and alleviate pressure on your toes.

If you develop a corn on your hammertoe, you can buy over-the-counter cushions and pads to relieve the pressure on the corn. Medicated products may cause skin irritations, sores, and infections if overused, but your podiatrist can advise you whether or not medicated products would help in your case. For immediate relief, your podiatrist can shave your corns and use a cortisone injection to reduce pain and inflammation.

Physical therapy is helpful for the treatment of hammertoes, and simply stretching them out by hand a few times a day can help reposition your toes and reduce pain. You can also use over-the-counter toe spacers to keep the tendons and ligaments in your feet flexible.

If your symptoms persist after these initial treatments, surgery could be advisable. Three operations can help people with hammertoes, depending on how flexible their toes are:

  • Tenotomy for flexible hammertoes
  • Arthroplasty for less flexible hammertoes
  • Arthrodesis for inflexible hammertoes

The sooner you seek treatment for your hammertoes, the less pain and inconvenience you’ll suffer, so call City Podiatry or schedule an appointment online today.