Did you know that if you seek treatment while your hammertoe is still flexible, you are much more likely to find relief without surgery than if you wait until it becomes rigid? If you’re suffering from an uncomfortable hammertoe, it’s time to see a podiatrist and correct it before it progresses any further.

The foot specialists at Starrett Podiatry offer services in six New York clinics for your convenience: East Harlem and West Harlem in New York City; Brooklyn, New York; and Mott Haven and Belmont in Bronx, New York.

request an appointment

What is a hammertoe?

A hammertoe is a toe that bends at the joint nearest your foot. As the joint bends, the toe begins to cross over your other toes, making it very difficult to find shoes that fit and even harder to avoid pain and discomfort related to ill-fitting shoes and joint contracture.

There are two kinds of hammertoe: flexible and rigid. Flexible hammertoes can be manipulated back into place manually, while rigid hammertoes have severely limited mobility.

Most hammertoes are flexible during the early stages of development and then become immobile or rigid over time. Flexible hammertoes are much easier to treat using non-invasive methods.

What causes hammertoe?

Problems with the muscles that support your toes usually cause hammertoe. In some cases, it results from heredity, trauma, ill-fitting shoes, or arthritis.

What are the symptoms of hammertoe?

You might have a hammertoe if you have any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Visible bending of a toe
  • Redness or swelling near the joint
  • Decreased mobility of the proximal joint (the joint nearest your foot)
  • Pain when walking, particularly in the ball of the foot near the affected joint
  • Pain on top of the affected toe from pressure caused by shoes

The sooner you get help from an experienced podiatrist, the sooner you can stop the progression of your hammertoe and regain mobility and comfort.

Is there anything I can do at home?

In conjunction with medical treatment, there are steps you can take at home to reduce your pain:

  • Wear shoes that have plenty of room in the toe box to prevent pressure on your hammertoe
  • Apply ice packs for 20 minutes a day three times a day to reduce swelling and pain
  • Use a hammertoe pad, found at most drug stores, to reduce pressure on the toe

While these measures can help reduce your pain, they won’t address the underlying cause of your hammertoe or prevent further progression.

How is hammertoe treated?

Flexible hammertoe is often treated using conservative measures like padding, taping, medication, and orthotic devices. Rigid hammertoe, or hammertoe that doesn’t improve after conservative treatment, is treated surgically. Starrett Podiatry offers both X-rays and surgery on site for your comfort and convenience.