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  • 6/20/2013

How to Get Rid of Hammer Toes?

hammer toe

What is hammertoe?

The smallest four toes of each foot have three bony segments connected by two joints, just as the fingers do. Hammertoe is a deformity in which one or more of the small toes develops a bend at the joint between the first and second segments so that the tip of the toe turns downward, making it looks like a hammer or claw. The second toe is affected most often.

Most hammertoes are caused by wearing ill-fitting, tight or high-heeled shoes over a long period of time. Shoes that don't fit well can crowd the toes, putting pressure on the middle toes and causing them to curl downward. The condition may be more likely when the second toe is longer than the first toe or when the arch of the foot is flat.

Hammertoe can also be present at birth (congenital). Hammertoe also can be caused by a bunion, which is the knobby bump that sometimes develops at the side of the big toe. A bunion causes the big toe to bend toward the other toes. The big toe can then overlaps and crowd the smaller toes. Occasionally, a hammertoe is inherited or caused by arthritis in the toe joint.

If the toes remain in the hammertoe position for long periods, the tendons on the top of the foot will tighten over time because they are not stretched to their full length. Eventually, the tendons shorten enough that the toe stays bent, even when shoes are not being worn.


The symptoms of hammertoe include:

· A curling toe

· Pain or discomfort in the toes and ball of the foot or the front of the leg, especially when toes are stretched downward

· Thickening of the skin above or below the affected toe with the formation of corns or calluses

· Difficulty finding shoes that fit well

In its early stages, hammertoe is not obvious. Frequently, hammertoe does not cause any symptoms except for the claw-like toe shape.

Hammer toes will only get worse with no treatment, so there’s no time like the present to get rid of hammer toes.

Go Shoe Shopping

Wearing too narrow shoes with no room for the toes to move is a major contributing factor to hammer toes. So toss those ill-fitting designer high heels and go shopping for flats or shoes with a low heel that have a wide width and give your toes and foot room to breathe. Wearing high heels once hammer toes have developed cause your toes to painfully smash up against the shoe. Opt for shoes with rounded rather than pointed toes and take a pass on any pair of shoes that feels even mildly tight.

Do Foot Exercises

At least once a day, remove your shoes to give your feet some exercise, wiggling your toes, then curling them under and flexing them in the opposite direction. Place several marbles or pencils on the floor and attempt to pick them up between your toes. At night and weekends in your own home, walk around barefoot to help the tendons of the feet which are contracting the toes to stretch out.

Apply a Splint

Many hammer toes respond to a device called a toe straightener or hammer toe splint. Place the affected toe or toes into the splint, which will help retrain the toes back into proper shape. Foot orthotics, devices placed inside your regular pair of shoes, can often help to reposition feet affected by hammer toes.

Aqua Therapy

The pain and swelling that sometimes accompanies hammer toes can be eliminated by soaking your feet in warm water first, then cold water for 15-20 minutes, several times a day.

Surgical Options

The most severe cases of hammer toe can only be corrected using surgery. This involves an outpatient procedure using local anesthesia so that the tendons and bone deformity can be reshaped via small incisions. Post-surgery, minimal pain medication is required, along with wearing special shoes until the foot completely heals.




Other links

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