Ouch! What you need to know about bunions and hammertoes

No one — not even the world’s most famous celebs — are immune to foot issues like bunions and hammertoes. The way we live — from our shoe choices to our day-to-day activities — can play a huge role in the way our feet feel both at the end of the day and decades down the line. Planning smart now can help prevent issues in the future. Bunions and hammertoes are common in our patients, but not everyone understands how they form — or how to prevent them from happening.


In a city like New York, walking from place to place is inevitable — and usually it’s a healthy choice. But if your shoes don’t fit right, a bunion could develop, and you could be in for a world of hurt. Squeezing into a pair of tight heels or flats can cause your feet to fall into an odd placement, and over time, that can cause an abnormal bony bump, commonly known as a bunion, to form by your big toe. Eventually, it might swell and grow, causing your big toe to curl inward or stiffen up. The more deformed the joint becomes, the more it leads to difficulty walking and being fitted with shoe wear. You’re also at risk for bunions if they run in your family, or if you have an injury, arthritis or neuromuscular disease.

If you suspect that you have a bunion, we can do a foot exam, which will include an X-ray to determine the extent of the situation. Sometimes, switching over to more spacious shoes can alleviate pain, but sometimes surgery might be the best option. Bunion surgeries are usually performed under an ankle block anesthesia and are done on an outpatient basis. After the procedure, you’ll need to wear a supportive shoe or boot and crutches for several weeks. Your recovery time will be around three months and you’ll need physical therapy.


Like bunions, hammertoes can form from wearing poorly fitting shoes, but hereditary abnormalities, rheumatoid arthritis, and traumatic injuries can also cause them to occur. How do you know if you have one? For starters, it will be painful! The condition develops when a muscle or tendon imbalance causes the toe to buckle and bend. That means your big toe will be lodged in an uncomfortable position, sometimes making it difficult to move. Redness and swelling might also occur, and corns and calluses can form if the toe is forced to rub your shoe repetitively.

Investing in shoes with more space for movement is an easy way to get relief. We can also suggest some exercises that stretch and strengthen the problem area. Some people have even found that it’s helpful to tape toes in their natural position. If a condition is severe, though, surgery might be the best option. In this case, you have options for the type of procedure, but you can expect to spend up to three months in recovery with rehabilitation.

Preventative care is the best way to avoid bunions and hammertoes, but if you already have them and need treatment, we’re here to help!