It’s hard to confuse hammertoe with other foot conditions. That’s because this foot problem earns its name from the telltale deformity it causes: a toe that bends downward at the middle joint — like a hammer — instead of pointing straight ahead.
This toe abnormality is quite common, especially for women. One of the main culprits for hammertoe involves footwear, specifically high-heeled shoes or styles with a tight toe box. However, you can also develop hammertoes because of foot trauma, muscle imbalances, diabetes-related nerve damage, and other issues.
The problem with hammertoes is that they can become incredibly painful and cause your toe to lose flexibility. Eventually, the toe can become permanently bent in this abnormal position. Not only can this make it difficult to find shoes that fit comfortably, but it can also lead to painful irritation on the toes and the formation of corns and calluses.
John Jurcisin, DPM, treats hammertoes at Precision Footcare in Midtown East, New York City, with conservative approaches whenever possible. In this blog, he shares a few conservative strategies to find relief and also discusses when surgery might be necessary.
The first step to managing hammertoes involves making changes the moment you notice the issue.
First, avoid wearing shoes that prevent your toes from lying completely flat in the toe box. Look for styles with a wide and deep toe box, which can also prevent the friction or rubbing that can lead to corns and calluses. Dr. Jurcisin could also recommend wearing sandals to ease your hammertoe symptoms.
That’s right! Doing exercises that strengthen the tiny muscles in your toes can help maintain flexibility, which, in turn, can help reduce pain and other hammertoe symptoms. These types of exercises often include using your toes to crumple a towel or pick up marbles.
If you have hammertoe, you may have other foot problems, too, such as bunions or corns. Fortunately, the right custom inserts or padding can help treat these issues while relieving your hammertoe symptoms at the same time.
However, you could need surgery if your hammertoe symptoms don’t respond to these conservative approaches.
If your toe no longer has any flexibility or doesn’t respond to other treatments, Dr. Jurcisin could suggest surgery to correct your toe deformity. The goal of hammertoe surgery involves releasing the tendon in your toe that keeps your toe from resting in a flat position.
Dr. Jurcisin performs hammertoe surgery using minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques in his on-site facility. Hammertoe surgery has a low risk for complications. Furthermore, these surgeries are successful 80-90% of the time.
In many cases, Dr. Jurcisin can correct multiple hammertoes simultaneously, along with other foot problems, such as bunions. However, you usually have surgery on one foot at a time. It takes approximately six weeks to recover from hammertoe surgery.
Do you have hammertoes? We can help. To learn more, call 212-750-8344 or book an appointment online with Precision Footcare today.