Hammertoe is a deformity of the toe that causes the toe to bend in a way that resembles a hammer. The condition is usually caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes or by an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the foot. Hammertoe can cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty walking, but the good news is that it can often be corrected without surgery. In this blog post, we will discuss how to correct a hammertoe without surgery.
- Wear the right shoes
One of the main causes of hammertoe is wearing shoes that are too tight or too narrow. When you wear shoes that are too small, your toes are cramped together, which can cause them to curl and become stuck in that position over time. When attempting nonsurgical treatment for hammertoe, the first step is to wear shoes that fit properly. Make sure that there is enough room in the toe box for your toes to move freely. Choose shoes with a low heel and a wide toe box to help keep your toes in their natural position.
- Use shoe inserts
Shoe inserts can be used to help correct the alignment of your toes. There are a variety of inserts available on the market, including toe straighteners, metatarsal pads, and arch supports. Toe straighteners are designed to hold your toes in a straight position, while metatarsal pads help to distribute pressure evenly across your foot. Arch supports can also help to alleviate pain and discomfort associated with hammertoe by providing additional support to your foot.
- Stretch your toes
Stretching exercises can help to correct a hammertoe by loosening up the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your foot. To stretch your toes, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Place a towel under the arch of your foot and use your toes to scrunch up the towel. Hold for a few seconds and then release. Repeat this exercise several times a day to help strengthen and stretch your toes.
- Use splints
Toe splints can be used to help keep your toes in a straight position. There are a variety of splints available on the market, including foam splints, gel splints, and adjustable splints. Foam and gel splints are designed to cushion your toes and keep them in a straight position, while adjustable splints can be customized to fit your foot.
- Wear toe separators
Toe separators are designed to separate your toes and help to alleviate pressure on your hammertoe. They can be worn with or without shoes and are available in a variety of materials, including silicone and foam. Toe separators can help to improve the alignment of your toes over time.
- Massage your foot
Massaging your foot can help to alleviate pain and discomfort associated with hammertoe. To massage your foot, use your fingers to apply pressure to the arch of your foot and the ball of your foot. Work your way down to your toes, using your fingers to massage the area around your hammertoe. Massage your foot for several minutes a day to help improve blood flow and reduce inflammation.
- Practice good foot hygiene
Good foot hygiene is essential when it comes to how to correct a hammertoe without surgery. Make sure to keep your feet clean and dry, and avoid wearing shoes that are damp or dirty. It is also important to trim your toenails regularly to prevent ingrown toenails.
- Consider Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can be a useful treatment option for hammertoe. A physical therapist can assess your condition and develop a personalized treatment plan to help correct the deformity. The therapist may use a variety of techniques, including manual therapy, stretches, and exercises, to help improve the alignment of your toes and relieve pain and discomfort. In addition, physical therapy can help improve your overall foot health, prevent future injuries, and reduce the risk of developing other foot problems.
- Apply Ice or Heat
Applying ice or heat to your foot can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with hammertoe. Ice can help reduce swelling and inflammation, while heat can help relax tight muscles and improve blood flow. To apply ice, wrap a cold pack or a bag of ice in a towel and apply it to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. To apply heat, use a heating pad or soak your foot in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Do Toe Strengthening Exercises
Toe strengthening exercises can help correct the muscle imbalances that contribute to hammertoe. Stronger toe muscles can help prevent the toe from curling under and promote proper alignment. Some toe strengthening exercises include:
- Picking up marbles with your toes
- Scrunching up a towel with your toes
- Doing toe curls with a resistance band
- Spreading your toes apart as wide as you can and holding for a few seconds
- Use Toe Crest Pads
Toe crest pads are designed to provide cushioning and support to the toes, especially the tips. They can be used to relieve pressure on the toe and prevent it from curling under. Toe crest pads are available in a variety of materials, including foam and gel, and can be worn with or without shoes.
- Tape Your Toes
Taping your toes can help keep them in a straight position and prevent them from curling under. To tape your toes, use medical tape or athletic tape to wrap the affected toe and the adjacent toe together. The tape should be snug but not too tight, and should allow for some movement. Taping your toes can be a temporary solution to help relieve pain and discomfort, but it is not a long-term fix.
- Consider Orthotics
Custom Orthotics are shoe inserts that are designed to provide support and cushioning to the foot. They can be customized to fit your foot and address specific foot problems, including hammertoe. Orthotics can help improve foot alignment, relieve pain and discomfort, and prevent future injuries. They can be purchased over-the-counter or prescribed by a healthcare professional.
- Lose Weight
Excess weight can contribute to foot problems, including hammertoe. Losing weight can help reduce pressure on the foot and improve foot health overall. In addition, losing weight can help reduce the risk of developing other health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Avoid High Heels and Tight Shoes
High heels and tight shoes can exacerbate hammertoe and make the condition worse. These types of shoes can cause the toes to be cramped and put pressure on the foot, leading to pain and discomfort. To prevent hammertoe from getting worse, it is important to avoid wearing high heels and tight shoes as much as possible.
To sum up, hammertoe correction without surgery is achievable by implementing a range of strategies that involve lifestyle changes, targeted exercises, and various treatment options. By adopting healthy habits like wearing appropriate shoes, using shoe inserts, and engaging in stretching and massaging of the foot, along with maintaining good foot hygiene, and exploring physical therapy, individuals can effectively reduce discomfort and improve the alignment of their toes. Additionally, incorporating practices like applying ice or heat and doing toe strengthening exercises can further enhance the effectiveness of non-surgical interventions for correcting hammertoe.