Hammertoe is a common foot deformity that prevents you from fully straightening one or more toes. Left untreated, a hammertoe may cause chronic pain and mobility issues. At Downstate Foot & Ankle Podiatry in Fort Greene, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Brownsville, and Bedford Stuyvesant, in Brooklyn, New York, Loretta Cacace, DPM, and Bryan Makower, DPM, have years of experience treating hammertoes. Using safe, effective methods of care, they can ease your pain and help you feel better. Make an appointment today by calling or clicking the online booking tool.
Hammertoe and mallet toe are two similar foot deformities that occur due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments responsible for keeping your toes straight. A hammertoe is a toe that has an abnormal bend in the middle joint, giving it a claw or hammerhead-like shape. A mallet toe, on the other hand, is a bend in the joint nearest your toenail.
Hammertoe and mallet toe can develop in any of your toes, but they’re especially common in the second, third, and fourth toes. Hammertoe typically develops over an extended period of time, so you might not notice any obvious symptoms early on.
Hammertoe and mallet toe can develop for a number of reasons. For example, if you frequently wear high heels or tight shoes, your toes are unable to lie flat. Over time, this might cause a permanent bend in one or more of your toes.
You might also develop a hammertoe if you injure your foot. If you stub, jam or fracture a toe, your chances of joint-related problems significantly increase. The muscles in your feet also play a role; an imbalance or weakness can cause your toe to contract.
Hammertoe and mallet toe affect people of all ages. However, certain factors may increase your risk, including:
You’re also at a higher risk of developing hammertoe if your second toe is longer than your big toe.
To diagnose hammertoe, your Downstate Foot & Ankle Podiatry provider physically examines your feet and toes. They also review your medical history, ask you about the symptoms you’re experiencing, and take a series of X-rays to get a closer look at the bones and inner structures of your feet.
Whenever possible, the team recommends treating hammertoe using conservative, nonsurgical methods of care. If your symptoms are mild, your provider might recommend buying a pair of roomier, more comfortable shoes or wearing orthotics. A series of at-home exercises to strengthen the muscles in your feet may also provide relief.
If these methods of treatment are unable to ease your symptoms, surgical intervention may be necessary. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor might recommend a tendon-release surgery or orthopedic surgery to remove a piece of bone in your toe.
Treatment for hammertoe begins at Downstate Foot & Ankle Podiatry. Make your appointment today by calling or clicking the online booking tool.