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How To Treat Hammer Toes

What is a hammer toe?

hammer toe claw toe mallet toe | Chiroplax hammer toe cushions
Hammer Toe vs. Claw Toe vs. Mallet Toe

Hammer toes, mallet toes and claw toes are similar conditions that are caused by deformity of the three middle toes, leaving them in a claw-like bent position. These three conditions will be referred to as a hammer toe in this article as they are often lumped together in common conversation.

Your four smaller toes have three joints each (base, middle and tip), while each big toe has two joints. The middle joint is bent in a hammer toe and the joint nearest the tip is bent in a mallet toe. All three joints are affected in a claw toe - the joint at the base is bent up, the middle joint is bent down and down again near the tip.

Types of Hammer Toes

There are two types of hammer toes depending on the degree of joint mobility.

  • Flexible Hammertoes: You can move your toe joints and straighten toes manually without too much pain.

  • Rigid Hammertoes: A rigid hammer toe does not have much mobility at the toe joints and even minimal movement can cause pain.


The most obvious symptom is an abnormal bend in the toe joints and this condition can cause many other symptoms.

Corns & Calluses caused by Hammer Toes | Chiroplax hammer toe cushions
Corns & Calluses caused by Hammer Toes
  • Pain and inflammation in the affected toes

  • Blisters and corns when the skin over a prominent bone rubs against your shoes

  • Calluses when you put extra stress on the ball of the foot to avoid the pain in the toes

  • Toe stiffness: The toes can be straightened manually in the early stages but the stiffness can become permanent as the tendons of the toe contract and tighten.


  • Imbalance of the Toe Muscles and Ligaments: The imbalance makes the toe joints get stuck in a bent position.

  • Certain Shoes: High-heeled shoes or ill-fitting shoes that are too tight in the toe box can crowd your toes into a space with your toes in a bent position. Over time, this bent position might persist even when the shoes are removed.

  • Toe or Foot Injury, e.g. stress fracture

  • Certain Disease: Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes or other neural problems might contribute to developing foot and toe deformities.

  • Morton's Toe: If your second toe is longer than your big toe, the second toe is more likely to be pushed into a bent position in a tight toe box.

  • Inherited Toe Type

  • Abnormal Foot Conditions, e.g. bunions, flat feet or high arches

There are other risk factors to hammer toes including but not limited to age and gender. Hammer toe risk increases with age and women are more likely to develop hammer toes than are men.

Medical Treatment

If your symptoms are mild, simple life style changes may be all the treatment you need. If your symptoms are severe, surgery, steroid injections or anti-inflammatory drugs may be needed. The type of procedure often depends on how severe the symptoms are and the types of deformity to straighten the bent toes.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Some lifestyle changes can help reduce pain, keep the hammer toes from worsening and prevent surgery. Consult your doctor before you make changes to the way you treat hammer toes.

1. Change Shoes

Wear shoes with a wide toe box and low heels and avoid shoes with a tight or pointed toe box that squeeze your toes.

2. Insoles or Pads

To take pressure off your hammer toe and relieve pain, your podiatrist may recommend inserts or pad.

3. Physical Therapy

Your physical therapist may teach you exercising techniques to help stretch and strengthen the toe muscles or provide "hands-on" treatments to improve motion and strength.

4. Icing

Applying ice to the affected area a few times a day can help reduce swelling. Do not apply ice directly on your skin.

5. Taping or Splinting: Taping or splinting may help hold toes in a normal position.

6. High Quality Hammer Toe Cushions, Splints and Toe Protectors

Chiroplax hammer toe cushions, splints and toe protectors are made from high quality silicone gel. Sometimes simple products like these can be all you need! Click here to see all Chiroplax hammer toe products.

The following Chiroplax hammer toe cushions provide cushion to the hammer toes and relieve pain.

The following Chiroplax hammer toe wraps help straighten hammer toes and relieve pain.

The following Chiroplax toe protectors prevent toes from rubbing against shoes and prevent blisters and corns.

The following Chiroplax toe stretchers help re-align and stretch your toes and correct the muscle imbalance.

[Coming soon] The following Chiroplax callus pads provide cushion to calluses and relieve pain that are caused by hammer toes.

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1 Comment

D. K.
D. K.
Jul 08

Treating hammer toes can involve wearing shoes with a wide toe box and using orthotic inserts to relieve pressure. Stretching and strengthening exercises for the toes can also help improve flexibility and reduce discomfort. Same with Morton's toe. For instance, the morton's toe spiritual meaning includes severe cases, surgery might be necessary to correct the toe deformity.

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