Bunions And Hammertoes

Matthew J. Harrison, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon & Foot and Ankle Specialist located in Santa Barbara, CA & Solvang, CA

Your feet are under an enormous amount of strain every day. Over time, deformities such as bunions or hammertoes may develop. Matthew J. Harrison, MD, uses advanced diagnostic tools and techniques to treat bunions and hammertoes. To schedule a consultation, call the office in Santa Barbara, California, or book an appointment online.

Bunions and Hammertoes Q & A

What are bunions?

A bunion is a bump that forms at the base of your big toe when your big toe is pushing against your second toe. This repositioning forces the joint to overcompensate and become bigger, which leads to a protrusion on the inside of your foot.

Bunions aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they can cause extreme discomfort if the protrusion becomes tender or swollen. As bunions progress, they can also create problems for your second toe, forcing it over or under your big toe.

Bunions may be hereditary or form as a result of an injury.

Your footwear may also play a part in how quickly and severely bunions develop. Shoes that crowd your toes together or heels that place too much pressure on the joint at the base of your toe may accelerate bunion development.

What are hammertoes?

Hammertoes are an aptly-named condition in which the tendons and ligaments in your toe are out of balance, preventing your toe from lying straight. Over time, the bend in your toe’s second joint worsens or even freezes, causing your toe to contract upward.

Though they most often develop in your second toe as a result of a bunion, hammertoes can also develop on the third and fourth toes.

Hammertoes are generally caused by improper footwear that doesn’t leave enough room for your toes to find their proper positions.

How are bunions and hammertoes treated?

After thoroughly examining your bunions or hammertoes, Dr. Harrison may recommend conservative treatment measures to alleviate your symptoms and prevent the progression of your foot deformity.

Treatment may include:

  • Orthotics
  • Toe braces or toe crests
  • Change in footwear
  • Padding
  • Corn and callus removal


If these measures don’t relieve your bunion or hammertoe pain, surgery may be necessary. 

During bunion surgery, Dr. Harrison straightens your big toe and removes the protrusion. You may need to walk with a boot or crutches afterward, but each case is different, and Dr. Harrison sits down and reviews the procedure with you so you know what to expect. 

For hammertoe surgery, he straightens the misaligned joint and fuses the bones together. 

Dr. Harrison’s goal is to help relieve your pain and correct the structural problem at the same time.

If you have bunions or hammertoes, call the office or use the online booking tool to schedule an appointment and explore your options.