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Bunion & Hammer Toe Specialist

Bunion & Hammer Toe services offered in North Andover, Lowell and Haverhill, MA


Bunions and hammer toes are very common and often painful conditions that might make it difficult to walk. If you have a bunion or hammer toe, Mitchell Wachtel, DPM, can help. At his offices in North Andover, Lowell, and Haverhill, Massachusetts, Dr. Wachtel and his team offer effective treatments, ranging from custom orthotics to surgery. To find relief from your painful bunion or hammer toe, call Mitchell Wachtel, DPM, today or book an appointment online.

Bunion & Hammer Toe Q&A

What is bunion & hammer toe?

Bunions and hammer toes are hard lumps on your feet that are often painful. However, there are some key differences between them: 

Bunion 

If there’s a lump on the inside of your foot at the base of your big toe, you might have a bunion. Bunions form when your toes push together, forcing your big toe joint to stick out to the side. The bump may be red and sore and become more painful as it gets bigger.

You may have thickened skin at the base of your big toe, and sometimes calluses or corns form because of friction between the bunion and your shoes. You might find it difficult to walk without pain, especially in tight or pointed shoes.

Hammer toe

A hammer toe is a raised, circular bump, usually on one of the four smaller toes. Hammer toes can be painful and limit your ability to walk. Your toe might swell and redden. People often develop a burning sensation between or on top of their toes. 

You’re more likely to suffer from corns and calluses if you have hammer toes.

What causes bunion & hammer toe?

The underlying cause of a bunion or hammer toe could be due to the following:

  • An injury to the foot
  • A disease like rheumatoid arthritis that causes joints to distort
  • Problems with your foot’s structure, such as flatfeet or very high arches
  • If you have a second toe that’s longer than the big toe

Wearing pointed or high-heeled shoes that force your toes into an unnatural position often gets the blame for bunions and hammer toes. However, these shoes might make an existing problem worse rather than causing your bunion or hammer toe.

You’re more likely to get bunions and hammer toes if other people in your family have them.

What treatments are available for bunion & hammer toe?

Dr. Wachtel always goes with conservative treatments first because most people find that they get relief from bunions and hammer toes without surgery. First, change your footwear to something with wider insteps, soft cushioning, and a broad toe box to give your toes plenty of room.

Cushioned pads can protect the bump, or you might need orthotics — custom shoe inserts that correct your foot alignment. Physical therapy, like stretches for your feet and legs, helps by keeping the bones and joints in better alignment. Toe spacers might also be useful for hammer toes to keep the tendons and ligaments flexible.

If you’ve tried all the conservative treatments and your bunion or hammer toe is causing you significant pain, Dr. Wachtel might recommend surgery. 

What does bunion & hammer toe surgery involve?

Bunion surgery involves realigning your foot bones, tendons, and ligaments so your big toe can go back to its proper position.

Tenotomy (cutting a tendon) helps with flexible hammer toes. If they’re less flexible, arthroplasty (joint resurfacing) might be better. If your hammer toe is inflexible, you may need arthrodesis (fusion surgery).

For expert care of your bunion & hammer toe, call Mitchell Wachtel, DPM, today or book an appointment online.

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