ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Hammer toe treatment and diagnosis

Updated on October 7, 2011

Whilst a great pair of high heeled shoes will make your feet and legs look spectacular on the outside, if your feet resemble roadkill after a night in stilettos then you could well be in for a problem in the long term. Don the spikes a little too regularly for prolonged sessions and you could be setting yourself up to develop a hammer toe condition. 

The problem is not just the result of high heels being worn. Many people wear shoes which are a little too tight and are not aware of how a shoe should feel on the foot when fitted correctly. Many modern styles for both men and women do not feature an adequate toe box which cramps the toes. Other genetic factors come into play, however for the majority it is badly fitting shoes which are to blame. If one or more of your toes is starting to stick out, or curve towards the others, you might be at the early stages of development

Early symptoms of a hammer toe


  • Corns and calluses on the toes or ball of the feet
  • A toe is contracted and cannot straighten
  • One or more toes bend towards the others
  • Inflammation at the joints or the toes
  • Pain in the feet when wearing shoes
  • Soreness and redness
  • Toe pain

If the condition is treated early and corrective steps taken a full recovery is possible with simple treatment programs. Left untreated and without a change to footwear the problem can become severe with new bone forming over the joints which will require surgery to correct.

John was quite a versatile pianist
John was quite a versatile pianist

Treatment for a hammer toes

Even in quite advanced cases, hammer toe treatment can be quite simple and effective and not require surgery. The most common treatments involve stretching the toes and repositioning them in the correct place. Toe stretching exercises help to get some of the mobility back, although the toes may need to be manipulated carefully at first.

One of the most common methods for treatment is toe straighteners.These devices are generally worn at night when the feet are relaxed and free from taking the body weight. It is a great time to complete the bulk of a treatment program, and combined with bunion shoes for the day it can be sufficient treatment enough.

Some toe straighteners are designed to offer maximum correction but are lightweight enough to be worn in shoes. Supported on the underside of the foot, the toe straighteners mould closely to the sole of the foot and are unnoticeable in most shoe styles. These work by positioning the toes in the correct place and allowing the feet to adjust naturally to the new position.

Simple toe and foot exercises can be really beneficial and can help to gently stretch the toes back into the normal position, and work well with the methods above. Toe separators can be used to gently stretch the toes. Different from the toe separators used when painting toenails, these devices are excellent for starting to get more mobility in the toes and encourage the muscles, tendons and ligaments to move back into the correct position.

Hammer toe treatment

Toe straighteners
Toe straighteners
Hammer toes
Hammer toes

Hammer toe Surgery

Naturally you have to give the above methods a fighting chance of success. If the problem has deteriorated for a long time it might be necessary to have surgery. Considered a last resort, toe surgery for a hammer toe is best avoided unless other less invasive treatments have failed.

Surgical correction can be simply a case of repositioning ligaments and tendons, however sometimes bone and cartilage need to be removed. As with any surgery, there are associated risks from anesthesia and there is usually a good 2 week recovery period. Surgery may involve wiring a toe in place but does not involve wearing a plaster cast.

Depending on the severity of the problem it may not be possible to restore full movement to the toe and joint, and there may be a lack of flexibility as a result. In the case of digital arthrodesis the toe is firmly fixed in the new position, and cannot be moved.

Whatever the severity condition a change of footwear is required. There is a great variety of wider footwear on the market which gives adequate support for the feet and room for the toes to be correctly positioned and not cramped. Shoes alone can well be sufficient to correct problems in the early stages, and certainly they can help to prevent further damage from occurring.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • ggerner profile image

      ggerner 

      8 years ago

      I tried toe straighteners at night when sleeping but they were too bulky to wear inside shoes during the day. After 1-2 months, I saw no improvement.

      I wish a very sheer sleeve with a thin, hard splint to keep toes straight (not those bands that look like medieval torture contraptions) was available to slip over each toe (toe only, like a toe glove) to train them to straighten 24/7.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      My aunt has this. I'll point her to your hub!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)