Hammertoes are so named because the front part of one or more middle toes begins to bend downward abnormally. Since this bending doesn’t initially cause any pain or discomfort, many people ignore the toe bending. It’s best to have your foot doctor check any abnormal toe bending in the early stages when the toes still retain some flexibility.
When the hammer shape becomes more pronounced, rigidity sets in, and surgery may be necessary to straighten the affected toes.
Treat hammertoes early (while they still retain some flexibility) with the following methods:
- Wear properly fitted footwear with a wide toe box—Choose properly fitted and supportive footwear with a wide toe box to help accommodate toe deformities without any rubbing and prevent blister formation from contact with the inside your shoes.
- Proper use and placement of custom orthotic inserts and toe braces—Metatarsal lifts are placed under the toes to help correct the tendon imbalance that is causing the tips of the toes to bend. You can wear specially made toe braces while sleeping to help straighten out the toes.
- Physical therapy to limber up the toes—Standing on a small towel and slowly scrunching the material back and forth with your toes is an excellent exercise. You can also try the marble pick-up exercise to improve dexterity and flexibility and help prevent abnormal bending.
For the proper treatment of hammertoes, see your foot doctor when you first notice any abnormal toe bending. At Your Next Step, our team of board-certified podiatrists has access to advanced technologies, along with years of experience, to help diagnose and treat various foot and ankle problems, including sports injuries, joint pain, toe deformities, nail fungus, chronic tendon pain, and skin problems. Dr. Eric Ricefield, Dr. Mark Yagodich, and Dr. Aliza V. Eisen provide high-quality foot and ankle care to patients in the greater Philadelphia area at our offices conveniently located in Ardmore, Paoli, and Downingtown, PA. Please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.