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What Causes Hammertoe and What Are My Treatment Options?

Hammertoes resemble their name and often take the shape of a hammer. The more technical definition is a foot deformity that can occur for a variety of reasons.

An imbalance in muscles, tendons, and ligaments cause the toe to be deformed. Your shoes, foot structure, and underlying diseases can cause a hammertoe. 

At Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC, we can address your hammertoe condition. Our specialists are experienced in podiatric medicine and can recommend hammertoe treatment options to best serve your needs. New York City patients can visit either of our two convenient locations in Midtown Manhattan and Downtown Manhattan. 

What causes hammertoe? 

A hammertoe resembles a hammer as the joint sticks out at an upward position. 

Most often, hammertoes happen in the second and third toe. You may also have a corn or callus near the tendon or joint.

Relieving the pain and pressure of a hammertoe may require changing your footwear or wearing shoe inserts. If you have a more severe case of hammertoe, surgery may be your best option.

Types of hammertoes

There are three types of hammertoes — flexible, semi-rigid, and rigid. Each has a distinct characteristic that can determine which stage of the deformity you are currently in.

A flexible hammertoe is developing, and the surrounding toes are able to move at the joint. This is the early stage of deformity and can often be cured or alleviated with medical intervention. 

A semi-rigid hammertoe is when a hammertoe begins to develop. You may notice the toe beginning to stiffen.

Rigid hammertoes can’t move on their own, and the surrounding and soft tissues have tightened.

Treatment options

You’re in luck — hammertoes can be treated! Depending on the severity of the deformity, your doctor can recommend the best treatment option

Surgery

If your pain is severe and impacts your daily routine, surgery may be your best treatment option. Your surgeon removes the bony portion of your toe and realigns the joint. Then they insert a steel pin to correct the toe’s position.

Custom orthotics 

Custom orthotics can help position your toe to relieve pain. Some patients may benefit from a pad that allows your toe to grip properly. 

Taping your toes

Taping your hammertoe to the next toe can provide support and gently force your hammertoe into a normal position. 

Adding padding around the hammertoe can decrease pressure and relieve pain. Your doctor may also recommend combining this with an anti-inflammatory medication or cortisone shots.

If you have a hammertoe, or notice a hammertoe developing, it’s a good idea to contact your doctor. Schedule a consultation with Manhattan Podiatry Associates, PC, today. Call our office most convenient to you or book an appointment online to determine what treatment options are best for you. 

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