Hammertoes are a common foot ailment, especially among women, and they can be treated easily and successfully. Dr. Adejoke Babalola, the Podiatrist of Perfect Footcare in New York City has extensive experience in alleviating this painful condition, from early onset to more advanced cases, always with an eye toward long-lasting, pain-free results.

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What are the symptoms of hammertoe?

Hammertoe is a contracture or bending of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toes (all except the big toe), usually occurring in the middle three toes. Hammertoes form because of an imbalance in the muscles or ligaments surrounding the toe. This abnormal bending can put pressure on the toe, especially when wearing shoes, causing painful problems to develop and, in severe cases, the toe can freeze up, unable to bend because of alignment issues.

Common symptoms of hammertoes include:

  • Pain or irritation of the affected toe, especially when wearing shoes
  • Decreased ability to move the toe
  • Corns — a buildup of skin on the top, side, or end of the toe, or between two toes. Corns are caused by constant friction against a shoe. They may be soft or hard, depending upon their locations
  • Calluses — a buildup of skin on the bottom of the toe or the ball of the foot

Hammertoes are also classified into two categories:

  1. Flexible hammertoes still have some ability to bend and are easier to correct since the condition hasn’t advanced.
  2. Rigid hammertoes occur when the toe becomes rigid, and you are unable to move it because the joint is out of alignment. Rigid hammertoes usually require corrective surgery.

What is the treatment for hammertoe?

Depending upon the degree of the hammertoe, Dr. Babalola may recommend several treatments, including:

  • Changing footwear
  • Orthotics, including metatarsal pads
  • Cortisone injections
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Minor surgery

Dr. Babalola has had great success treating severe hammertoes with minimal incision surgery where a small piece of bone is removed and the joint realigned. Typically, the surgery doesn’t require hospitalization.

Can I prevent hammertoe?

There are many ways to protect yourself against hammertoes from forming, such as:

  • Proper footwear — as we grow older our feet often become bigger so make sure your footwear is properly sized and fits comfortably
  • Regularly checking your feet, especially if you have circulatory problems like diabetes
  • Elevating your feet
  • Warm baths for the feet
  • Foot massages
  • For women, avoiding high heels can help prevent hammertoes