How to Treat Hammer Toe at Home from a South Park Foot Surgeon

November 5, 2019

Hammer toe is the most common deformity of the second, third, or fourth toe. While some people can manage the condition with simple lifestyle changes, others may require foot surgery. In today’s post, our South Park foot surgeon will discuss ways you can treat hammer toe at home, and what to do if home treatment is unsuccessful.

Change Your Footwear

Most cases of hammer toe are caused by tight, poorly-fitted footwear. This means that changing your footwear to a more comfortable option can significantly help alleviate symptoms. Choose shoes with roomy toe boxes, low heels, and good arch support. Sandals or athletic shoes may be a good option. If you have tried these options and are still experiencing issues, you may seek custom orthotics from a podiatrist.

Use Over-the-Counter Products

Mild cases of hammer toe can also be helped by over-the-counter products which hold the toes in a more comfortable position. Options include moleskin, toe tubes, arch supports, toe caps, slings, and orthotics. While these products are usually better for treating a flexible toe, they can also provide some relief for a fixed toe.

Wrap the Toes with Medical Tape 

If your toe joint is still somewhat flexible, you can try taping it into a better position. Wrap tape under the big toe (or the toe next to the hammer toe), then over the hammer toe, and then underneath the next toe. This will gently force the hammer toe into a normal position. However, it may not straighten the toe permanently.

Perform Toe Stretches and Exercises

You can make some significant improvements by performing exercises that keep the toe joints flexible and strong. Try placing a towel beneath your feet and using your toes to crumple it, or use your toes to pick up marbles and drop them in a cup. Your podiatrist or physical therapist may be able to suggest more exercises that are helpful.

When to See a South Park Podiatrist

If your pain doesn’t go away or worsens after 2 to 3 weeks of home treatment, it is important to see a podiatrist to discuss professional treatment options. It is especially important to seek medical treatment if you develop a sore, as sores can progress into more severe conditions like cellulitis or osteomyelitis. Foot doctors can often treat toe deformities by moving the tendons to release tension on the joint, allowing the toe straighten. In severe cases, foot surgery may be an option.

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