Hammer Toes

A hammer toe is a deformity where the toe is curled downward. These deformities usually start off as flexible but become painful or stiff over time making fitting into shoes difficult. People often develop corns or calluses on their toes which cause more pain. Your Midtown NYC foot doctor will explain your best options to fix your hammer toe pain.

Foot doctors frequently get asked to explain why they suddenly have this deformity that they never had before. The answer is complicated to understand but it is important to know than your toes are kept straight by multiple muscles that connect all around the toe. If one muscle group starts to overpower the other, your toe can become bent. We frequently see hammer toes develop in those who have other foot deformities, specifically, with flat foot, tight calf muscles and high arch foot.

Hammer Toe Causes

Hammer Toes Specialist NYCHammer toe can develop for a variety of reasons as your top NYC foot doctor Dr. Solomon will explain during your visit. Your foot structure, some diseases, and even the shoes you wear can lead to these conditions. The most common causes include:

  • Shoes: Wearing high heeled shoes or shoes that don’t have enough room in the toe box can cause your toes to be so crowded that they can’t lie flat. If your toes are in this position too much, they can eventually stay that way.
  • Abnormal balance of toe muscles: This leads to instability of your foot, which can cause the muscles of your toe to contract.
  • Trauma: Any injury that introduces blunt force to your toe — whether you stub, jam or break it — makes it more likely that hammer toe or mallet toe develops.

Other causes of hammer toe include:

  • a traumatic toe injury
  • arthritis
  • an unusually high foot arch
  • tightened ligaments or tendons in the foot
  • pressure from a bunion, which is when your big toe points inward toward your second toe. A pressure from bunion can be easily resolved by bilateral bunion surgery. Bunion surgeon Dr. Solomon can remove the bump from the big toe joint and shift the bone over.

Symptoms of Hammer Toe

If you have hammer toe or mallet toe, your joints may be difficult to bend. Certain shoes may cause pain due to the joint rubbing on the top of your shoes. The joints may be painful even when you’re barefoot so schedule an appointment with your midtown NYC foot doctor before you get to this point.

If the pain is persistent and it becomes difficult to walk, it is time to see a top podiatry doctor for a diagnosis. Diagnosing hammer toe or mallet toe may be a simple matter of examining your foot. Your foot doctor in NYC may order X-rays to do a compete evaluation of the bones and joints in your foot.

Hammer Toe Risk factors

Certain risk factors increase your likelihood of developing a hammer toe. These include:

  • a family history of hammer toe
  • wearing tight or pointy-toed shoes
  • having calluses, bunions, or corns, which are thickened layers of skin caused by prolonged and repeated friction

Be Prepared for Your Appointment

Your primary care physician may refer you to a good podiatrist for specialized treatment. Before your appointment, make a list of all your symptoms — even those that you might think are unrelated to your feet. Your midtown NYC foot doctor takes a complete medical history, but you should be prepared to ask questions, too:

  • Do any of my medications, including supplements and doses, affect my feet?
  • What’s causing my foot pain and what can I do about it?
  • What can I do to avoid hammer toe surgery or should I see a foot surgeon?
  • Is this a temporary condition?
  • What’s the best thing to do right now?

Hammer Toe Treatments

Depending upon the flexibility of your affected toes, your midtown foot doctor may suggest that you wear shoes with more room for your toes. You may benefit from wearing orthotics, too. You can also try foot pads that cushion and reposition your toe to relieve pressure and pain.

A good NYC podiatrist may recommend  physical therapy to help alleviate your symptoms.

If these conservative treatments and exercises don’t help ease your discomfort, your foot doctor may suggest surgery as a last resort. Surgery releases the tight tendon that’s preventing your toe from lying flat. A top podiatry doctor may have to remove a piece of bone to help straighten your toe.

Self-Care Recommended by Your Foot Doctor

When you have hammer toe or mallet toe, wear proper footwear. Always wear low-heeled shoes with a wide toe box. Your shoes should also have flexible material over your toes to accommodate your toes comfortably and give them room to stretch. Make sure your shoes have at least a half inch of space between the tip of your longest toe and the inside front of your shoe.

Also avoid over-the-counter medicated corn removal products; they often contain acid, which can irritate your skin. Don’t attempt to shave or remove corns from a toe yourself. Foot wounds can become infected easily, and they’re difficult to treat. Healing can be slow, especially if you have diabetes or poor circulation. Corn removal should be handled by a podiatrist in NYC.


You can avoid ankleheel and foot pain simply by wearing shoes that fit correctly. When buying footwear, follow these guidelines from your NYC podiatrist for proper fit:

  • Leave room for your toes: Avoid shoes with pointed toes, whether flats or high-heeled.
  • Wear low heels: Wearing low heels also helps prevent back problems and tight calves.
  • Opt for flexibility: Shoes with laces or straps have more room and are adjustable.

In addition, consider these shoe-buying tips that help you make the best choices for your feet in the long run.

New York City podiatrist recommends:

  • Buy shoes that fit: Be sure that shoes fit well and are comfortable before you purchase them. Sometimes, a shoe repair store can stretch them to fit, but it’s best for them to fit well before you leave the shoe store.
  • Buy shoes at the end of the day:Y our feet are at their biggest at the end of the day, so shopping at that time gives you the best fit. If the shoes have enough room then, they should be comfortable throughout the day.
  • Check your size: Have your feet measured to make sure you wear the size you think you do. As you age, your feet may grow, especially in width. Always measure both feet, and buy shoes to fit the bigger foot.

Your midtown NYC foot doctor can help you make choices that are the best for your particular situation. You can avoid foot pain now and avoid problems in the future.

Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult foot doctor about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified podiatrist or foot specialist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

Do you have any questions about hammer toes treatment in NYC? Would you like to schedule an appointment with an internationally recognized, top rated podiatrist and leading foot doctor, Dr. Sophia Solomon of Podiatry Midtown specialists?  Please contact our office for consultation.

Manhattan Foot Specialists
Dr. Sophia Solomon, Podiatrist (NYC Foot Doctor)

51 East 25th Street, Ste 409
New York, NY 10010

(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
(212) 389-9918

Published on Jun 7, 2019 by Dr. Solomon (Podiatrist), Manhattan Foot Specialists
The information on this website is to provide general guidance. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive medical advice and self diagnoses should not be made based on information obtained online. It is important to consult a best in class podiatrist regarding ANY and ALL symptoms or signs as it may a sign of a serious illness or condition. A thorough consultation and examination should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call a foot doctor or call our office today and schedule a consultation with the leading foot surgeon Dr. Sophia Solomon.