Hammertoes are a foot condition where the middle toe joints bend abnormally, instead of resting forward and flat on the ground. The shape of the chronically bent toe is similar to the head of a hammer.

If you’ve been diagnosed with the condition by a family doctor or a professional chiropodist, you should take a look at these simple treatment options:

Improved Footwear

Hammertoes can be created and exacerbated by certain kinds of footwear. High heels, pointed shoes, and too-small shoes force the toes to curl. When you wear these shoes all the time, your toes can stay in this uncomfortable position.

One of the best ways to fix this problem is to wear the right shoes for your foot type and foot size — the more comfortable your footwear is, the better your toes will feel. Opt for shoe styles that don’t put pressure on your toes, like sneakers. If you need a pair of dress shoes, you should visit a foot clinic to see what stylish orthopaedic choices they have available.

Custom Orthotics

Speaking of footwear — corrective orthotics can be used to reposition the hammertoes so that they’re properly aligned. An orthotic insert can also take pressure off the area, making it less painful to move around and go about your regular activities.

Toe Separators

You can’t stop your hammertoes from crowding over each other. It’s a frustrating feeling, especially when you’re trying to slide on your shoes. One simple solution for this problem is a pair of toe separators to keep your toes perfectly aligned. They’re similar to toe separators used in nail salons that keep your toes from touching during pedicures.

Strengthening Exercises

Doing foot and toe exercises every single day will improve the mobility, flexibility and strength of your feet. The routine will make it easier to gain control over your toes, including when they crowd over each other. And it can ease stiffness and pain over time.

Some exercises that you can try for hammertoes:

  • Toe extensions
  • Marble pick-ups
  • Towel curls
  • Toe splays
  • Toe raises

Remove Calluses

When toe joints rub up against the toe box of the shoe, the friction creates a foot callus or a callus on the toe, which is commonly called a “corn.”

Removing calluses can be easy. Soak your feet in a warm bath to soften the toughened skin, and then use a pumice stone or callus shaver to remove the thickened skin.

Getting rid of corns can be trickier. A lot of over-the-counter products have acidic ingredients meant to burn off the “dead” skin, but it runs the risk of creating an infection or scar. Safer corn removal methods like toe sleeves and lambswool wraps will cover up the raised skin and reduce friction from footwear.

When the hammertoe is flexible, it can be modified with footwear, orthotics, accessories and exercises. But if you see no positive changes over time and the pain gets worse, you’re likely dealing with fixed hammertoes. In this case, you may want to discuss surgery options with your doctor.