Left untreated, hammertoe can progress, or worsen, over time, causing a toe to bend permanently at the middle joint. NYU Langone physicians recommend simple lifestyle strategies, such as wearing the correct size shoes, to prevent symptoms from worsening. They also recommend physical therapy as you recover from surgery to correct hammertoe.
Schedule an Appointment
Browse our specialists and get the care you need.Find a Doctor & Schedule
The best way to prevent hammertoe from getting worse or returning after surgery is to avoid tight, pointy shoes. Doctors recommend shoes that have roomy toe boxes, meaning there should be a half-inch of space between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe. Many people find that footpads or orthotic inserts make even well-fitting shoes more comfortable. Our doctors and orthotics specialists can recommend the best product for you based on your symptoms.
Knowing your shoe size is also important. As people age, the size of the feet can change. Doctors recommend having your feet measured regularly to ensure that any shoes you buy fit properly. If you have a difficult time finding shoes that fit well, our orthotics specialists can custom fit a pair for you.
Doctors recommend resting your feet regularly, especially if your job requires standing for long periods of time. They also recommend examining your feet every day to see if hammertoe has caused any physical changes. These may include calluses, which are areas of thickened skin, and corns, which are hard lumps that may form on or between toes. Blisters, which are fluid-filled pockets of skin, may also develop as a result of hammertoe. If these physical changes occur, our doctors can recommend treatment.
If you have a medical condition that affects sensation in the feet, such as diabetes, doctors recommend that you inspect your feet daily for cuts or blisters. If shoes rub against skin on the toes or foot, the resulting blisters can turn into open sores.
Because diabetes may reduce a person’s ability to feel pain, a foot wound may go unnoticed and become infected. Without treatment, an infected wound poses a significant risk of additional foot problems.
Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.