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Best Ways to Straighten Your Hammer Toe at Home

Learn about hammertoes, what causes and aggravates them, what non-surgical treatment options you have available to you, and whether you'll need surgery or not.

a man in a white shirt and blue and pink suspenders
By Babafemi Adebajo
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published December 29, 2021.

Hammertoe is a foot condition in which the second, third, or fourth toe bends abnormally at the middle joint, which is different to claw or mallet toes. It is more common in aging women than men. Overall, it is a condition that is mostly self-diagnosable as the toe will likely be painful and develop corns and calluses.

Causes of Hammer Toe

Any of the following factors can cause hammer toes;

  1. Improper footwear If you’re constantly curling your toes for them to be able to fit into a high-heeled shoe or a shoe with a tight toe box, you’re likely to develop hammertoe over time.
  2. Direct trauma Any blunt force that causes you to hit or even break a toe makes it likely for you to develop the hammertoe deformity.
  3. Muscle imbalance Joints are held in position by the action of opposite muscles. When any of the muscle (or muscle groups) is imbalanced, it can cause the toe to contract and become deformed over time.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Hammertoes

It is possible to straighten hammertoes at home without surgery and relieve symptoms of pain, impaired joint mobility, and discomfort by the following methods:

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises done gently and manually.
  • Use of good and well-fitted shoes.
  • Custom orthotics for added support, comfort, and to prevent worsening of the deformity.
  • Cortisone injections, if prescribed in certain chronic cases by your general practitioner.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines prescribed by your GP.
  • Mallet toe splints and pads if prescribed by your healthcare practitioner.

Is It Possible to Correct a Hammertoe?

Hammertoes, like most foot deformities, is a progressive condition that will worsen if not treated. If caught early, it can potentially be corrected or reversed using any of the natural cures mentioned above. However, if not attended to soon enough, or in certain severe cases, the condition can progress to a point where conservative treatment options will no longer be effective. In this case, surgery is the only available remedy for hammertoes.