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Your Questions About Hammer Toes Answered

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Your Questions About Hammer Toes Answered | Gotham Footcare

What is a hammer toe, and how is it treated? Dr. Miguel Cunha from Gotham Footcare breaks down the causes, therapies, and treatments for hammer toes.

What is a hammer toe?

Your toes are essential digits connected to your feet to give you the ability to navigate standing, walking, and running. Healthy bone structures in your toes help your overall foot well-being and mobility. A hammer toe can be a debilitating and disfiguring foot condition where the end of the toe is bent down. It usually occurs in the middle three toes, can cause balance and posture issues, and be painful for those who suffer from it.

What causes a hammer toe? Is it preventable?

Typically, wearing improper or ill-fitting footwear for prolonged periods can cause toes to be in a curled position, making them resemble a hammer. When left untreated, the muscles and bones can stay fixed in this deformed placement and will require surgery to correct. Other risk factors include acute injuries or trauma, high arches, and medical conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and strokes. It can also occur with age.

What is the difference between a hammer toe, claw toe, and mallet toe?

Three common toe conditions can affect your balance and overall foot health.

  • Hammer toe - the toe bends down toward the floor in the middle toe joint, forcing the middle of the toe to rise up, and typically occurs with bunions.
  • Claw toe - the toe is bent into an abnormal shape resembling a claw. It typically occurs in the four smaller toes at the same time. The joint where the toes and foot meet are affected and bend down, creating a claw-like form.
  • Mallet toe - the joint at the tip of the toe bends downward and most often affects the second toe but can also affect the other toes.

How can I straighten my hammer toe naturally? Can you fix a hammer toe without surgery?

While there is no effective non-surgical way to repair hammer toe deformities, you may be able to treat some of the symptoms at home with better footwear, taping of your toes, exercises that encourage joint flexibility, and over-the-counter pain relievers, if there’s pain associated with your condition. It is important to note these strategies will not correct the problem, but they will help slow the progression of it.

Can a podiatrist fix a hammer toe?

Working with an experienced board-certified podiatrist may help treat your hammer toe problems by prescribing pain and anti-inflammatory medications, performing cortisone injections or prescribing special, custom-made orthotic shoe inserts to reduce the symptoms. If your condition is severe and you want your toes straightened, surgery can correct the problem and alleviate the other symptoms associated with toe deformities.

Is hammer toe surgery painful?

Your physician will perform a detailed exam and answer any questions or concerns you have about the surgical procedure. Once you have decided on surgical repair, they will take care to minimize the discomfort of the procedure itself by using local anesthesia. However, as with any other surgery, pain and swelling may occur, and you must have someone drive you home.

How long does it take to recover from hammer toe surgery?

Because of the delicate nature of your toes, recovery can take several weeks, depending on what the surgery entails. It will be important not to put weight on your foot and follow the detailed aftercare instructions provided by your doctor. You may do some exercises to help with the flexibility of your toes following your surgery.

How long do the results of hammer toe surgery last?

The success of your hammer toe repair can depend on your lifestyle choices. For example, if the cause of your condition was wearing improper footwear, avoiding that can help ensure long-lasting results. In addition, some medical conditions like arthritis can increase the chance of recurrence, typically in other toes. Speaking with your physician to understand your risk for recurrence can be helpful.

How much does hammer toe surgery cost?

If it is considered medically necessary, hammer toe surgery can be covered by insurance, especially if your doctor deems that it is negatively affecting your foot health. However, it is always recommended to check with your insurance plan’s specific coverage policies, and some financial coordinators can help with specific payment questions and concerns.

Step Into a New You

When you experience toe issues, it can affect your balance and how your feet look, making you feel self-conscious. When left untreated, these conditions can also cause improper posture and poor circulation in your feet. It is essential to address and correct these problems before they cause long-term damage. The first step is to find an experienced podiatrist who can understand and address your concerns and create a personalized care plan to restore your podiatric health.

At Gotham Footcare in NYC, we strive at recognizing your individual needs and desired outcomes while formulating an effective and personalized treatment plan with the highest quality care available.

What sets Gotham Footcare apart from other podiatry offices is our dedication to providing you with the education you need to make well-informed decisions regarding your care. Regardless of what your foot and ankle trouble may be, at Gotham Footcare our team will work tirelessly to help you feel better. At Gotham Footcare, we help you put your best foot forward.