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If your midtown NYC foot doctor tells you that you have hammer toes, you may think it refers to the time you dropped a heavy hammer on your foot. It doesn’t. And mallet toe doesn’t have anything to do hand tools. Hammer toe and mallet toe are different types of foot deformities that a podiatrist can treat.
These deformities occur because of imbalances in your tendons, muscles or ligaments. Normally, they work together to keep your toes straight. Hammer toe is when you have an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. A foot doctor defines mallet toe as when the joint nearest the toenail is bent. Both conditions affect the second, third and fourth toes of your foot.
Hammer Toe Causes
Hammer toe and mallet toe share causes, and both can develop for a variety of reasons, according to leading midtown NYC foot doctors. 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 even when you’re barefoot.
- 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.
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, leading you to your midtown NYC foot doctor.
If the pain is persistent and it becomes hard to walk, it’s time to see a good 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.
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 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 exercises to strengthen and stretch your toe muscles. Some simple exercises help alleviate your symptoms, including:
- Practice picking up a marble with your toes
- Place a towel flat on the floor and crumple it using only your toes
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 hard to treat. Healing can be slow, especially if you have diabetes or poor circulation. Corn removal should be handled by a podiatrist in NYC.
- 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.
- 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: Your 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 a 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 like to schedule an appointment with an internationally recognized, top NYC Podiatrist and foot doctor, Dr. Jennifer McCoy of Manhattan Foot Specialists, please contact our office for consultation.
Dr. Jennifer McCoy, Podiatrist (NYC Foot Doctor)
New York, NY 10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 389-9918