Tips for Preventing Hammertoe

Jan 03, 2024
Tips for Preventing Hammertoe
Hammertoe can impact you long after you've ditched your favorite pair of shoes. The lingering pain and discomfort can impact how you walk and interfere with your daily life. Consult with a specialist to find the best solution.

Hammertoe typically develops gradually, often due to wearing high heels or tight shoes with a narrow toe box. This footwear tends to force the toes into a cramped space, pushing the tips downwards and causing the middle joints to protrude or arch upwards. 

Regularly wearing ill-fitting shoes can lead to friction between the tops of the toes and the shoe, resulting in painful sores, corns, and calluses. Besides causing foot discomfort, hammertoe can also impact the way you walk. 

Hammertoe most commonly develops in the second, third, and fourth toes. Board-certified foot and ankle surgeon Babak Kosari, DPM, provides comprehensive care for a full range of issues that affect the feet and ankles, including hammertoe. If you suspect you might have a hammertoe, it's important to consult a podiatrist for an accurate diagnosis.

Managing hammertoe often involves changing shoes with lower heels and spacious toe boxes to alleviate discomfort and prevent further complications. In some cases, surgery is the most appropriate treatment to correct hammertoe

Footwear choice matters

Your footwear choices might look great but could harm your foot health. The ideal shoe style for preventing hammertoe might not always align with current fashion trends, but choosing the right type can ward off foot issues.

Avoid shoes with a narrow toe box that compresses your toes. Ditch the pointed wing-tips and tight stilettos for shoes with a more square or roomy toe, allowing your feet enough space.

Getting the right fit

Knowing your shoe size is more complex than it seems. Shoe sizes can be misleading due to:

  • Variations in measurements across different manufacturers
  • Shoes that are sized inconsistently (small, large, wide, or narrow)
  • Differences in the size of your feet (always buy for the larger foot)
  • Changes in foot size with age and during pregnancy

Never rely solely on your assumed shoe size. Measure your feet each time you shop for shoes, and prioritize comfort.

Tips for shoe shopping to avoid hammertoe

When shopping for shoes to prevent hammertoe, consider the following:

  • Shop in the evening 
  • Wear the socks 
  • Ensure there's at least a half-inch space in front 
  • Check that the ball of your foot fits comfortably 
  • Don't ignore arch support
  • Avoid shoes that feel tight

Taking care of your feet is crucial, even with the right shoes. Promote good circulation with warm water soaks, elevation, and occasional foot massages.

Dealing with existing hammertoe

If you already have a hammertoe, making lifestyle changes, starting with your footwear, can help. Dr. Kosari can also provide custom orthotics or splints for more stubborn cases.

For severe hammertoe, Dr. Kosari may recommend surgical correction. During surgery, Dr. Kosari realigns the toe bones to correct the abnormal bending of the toe. Hammertoe pain is the number one reason to consider hammertoe surgery. If nonsurgical approaches fail to relieve pain from hammertoe, discuss it with Dr. Kosari. 

Contact our Greater Los Angeles office for more information on preventing or treating hammertoe. We are located in Northridge and Santa Clarita, California, to schedule a visit with Dr. Kosari.