Hammer toes are painful deformities that occur when the end of the toe bends downward and the middle joint curls upward. Although they are most common in the second toe, hammer toes can appear in other toes as well. Hammer toes form from muscle imbalances that could come from genes, wearing ill-fitting shoes, neuromuscular diseases, and trauma to the toe.
The most common symptoms of hammer toes are the visual abnormality and the pain that comes with the inability to straighten out the toe. Over time, hammer toes may cause difficulty walking and calluses may develop on top of the joint.
If you suffer from hammer toes, the good news is that there are certain remedies that can help relieve hammer toe pain.
- Taping or Splinting Your Hammer Toes
Some people find that taping or splinting hammer toes helps to keep them straight and prevent them from developing into more claw-like shapes. A physical therapist or a foot doctor can show you how to effectively tape your toe.
- Doing Toe Exercises for Hammer Toes
While taping hammer toes could help mitigate pain, it is also important to perform the right toe exercises to keep your toe joints flexibles. This includes gently stretching your toes on a regular basis and practicing picking things up with your toes.
- Soaking & Massaging Hammer Toes
Hammer toe pain often flares up from wearing the wrong foot gear. To combat this, try soaking your feet in warm water with Epson salt for 15 minutes daily. This may help reduce swelling. After soaking, another useful practice may be to massage your toes to increase circulation. This could also help relieve your hammer toe pain, even if it is just temporary. Finally, consider seeing a foot and ankle specialist to provide guidance on what shoe gear would be best for your foot type.
- Wearing the Right Footwear
While several things may cause hammer toes, one of the most common culprits is ill-fitting shoes. To find not only the right size shoe but also the right width, we suggest visiting a podiatrist. Foot care specialists may be able to help you determine the best type of arch that will put the least amount of pressure on your hammer toes. You may even require custom foot orthotics.
- Over-the-Counter Foot Products
Certain OTC foot care products like cushions, straps, gel molds, and toe separators may help relieve hammer toe pain. Many people find that toe crutches tend to be effective both immediately and over long periods of time.
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