Before we explain how to treat hammer toes without surgery, you need to understand how to identify this deformity. You see, the earlier you identify the problem, the more likely it is that non-surgical hammer toe treatments will be effective. Not sure exactly what hammer toes look like, or why this problem develops in the first place? Keep reading to find out more.
What are Hammer Toes?
Hammer toes develop when you sustain damage in your toe joints, or ‘knuckles.’ With this deformity, your toe joints could become more prominent, or your toes may appear to be buckling. In some cases, the toe’s appearance isn’t dramatically different, but you’ll notice that they rub against your shoe tops. These are all symptoms of a hammer toe. And, when identified early on, they can be treated without surgery.
What Causes Hammer Toes to Develop?
Hammer toes form for a number of different reasons. Most often, they’re the result of imbalances in your toe muscles. Also, bunions forming on your big toe can lead to hammer toe formation on neighboring toes. And, sometimes, a simple toe stub or broken toe can cause enough joint damage to cause hammer toes to form.
Your hammer toes may be rigid or flexible. What’s the difference? You can still straighten out a flexible hammer toe. But a rigid hammer toe is too stiff for straightening.
How to Treat Hammer Toes without Surgery
It’s possible to straighten out flexible hammer toes—and without surgery, too—if you seek early intervention. But, in order to straighten out a hammer toe, we’ll have to address both the deformity and the underlying cause.
As such, most non-surgical hammer toe treatments involve several different approaches. First, we’ll likely suggest a shoe change, choosing pairs with low heels, and plenty of room in the toe box. Additionally, getting fitted for custom orthotics can help correct imbalances in your feet and toes. This will take pressure off your existing hammer toe, allowing it to straighten with other interventions. Plus, when you wear your custom orthotics regularly, you reduce your risk for a recurring hammer toe—and for other foot deformities!
Using toe splints can also help straighten out a flexible hammer toe. If you’re experiencing discomfort, we can help manage the pain with anti-inflammatory medications. Also, we’ve found that certain toe exercises can help treat hammer toes without surgery!
How to Treat Hammer Toes without Surgery: Try Toe Stretching!
When recommended and prescribed by our podiatrists in Massapequa, toe stretches can help correct hammer toes by strengthening weak muscles; loosening tight ones; and improving stability in your ligaments and mobility in your joints. While each patient may benefit from a unique treatment protocol, some effective stretches for hammer toes include toe curls using a towel. To try this stretch, Sit down with feet flat on the flower, and a towel on the floor in front of you. Now, curl up your toes and try to scrunch the towel. Hold for a few seconds, then release, repeating this stretch 10 times. In between each scrunch, extend your toes as far as you can, in order to move the scrunched towel farther away from your feet.
Of course, depending on the severity of your deformity, it may take time for you to notice results from non-invasive treatments. However, with time and patience, non-surgical treatments should be able to relieve your discomfort and straighten out a hammer toe.
How to Treat a Hammer Toe When Non-Surgical Options Fail
As we mentioned, there are many effective non-surgical treatments for hammer toes. But they are typically only effective when you seek treatment for a flexible hammer toe.
In contrast, painful, stiff and rigid hammer toes are less likely to respond to conservative treatments such as stretches, orthotics and splints. So, in cases where you can’t straighten your hammer toes out, and you’re finding it difficult to fit into shoes or even walk down the hall, surgery may be your best option. Just know that in our Nassau County podiatry practice, surgery is always a last resort treatment option. And we will do anything we can to help you avoid an operation.
How to Treat Hammer Toes Without Surgery, When Bunions are Involved
Because hammer toes change your foot mechanics, and put extra pressure on every part of your foot, they are often not your only deformity. As such, we see many patients who have hammer toes and bunions, and want to treat both problems. Additionally, many patients with hammer toes develop painful corns, either on top of their deformed toes or in between the neighboring toes.
Worried that having multiple concerns will force you to seek more serious interventions? Luckily, that’s not the case! Depending on the severity of your bunion, many of the non-surgical treatments we use to address hammer toes can help prevent a bunion deformity from getting worse! And they’re likely to relieve bunion pain as well!
However, if your bunion is very large, or causing you serious discomfort, surgery may be your best option. But we will only make that decision after a thorough exam, and after exhausting less invasive treatment options.
How to Treat Hammer Toes Without Surgery: Make Sure to See Your Massapequa Podiatrist
If you want to straighten out a hammer toe without surgical intervention, make an appointment at our podiatry practice in Long Island. You see, our podiatrists are highly trained foot and ankle surgeons. But they also have years of experience treating hammer toes without surgery. And so, instead of immediately scheduling you for a surgery, we’re ready to try less invasive options to help you find relief.
Want to straighten out your painful hammer toe and finally fit in the shoes you’ve been missing? Hoping to stop hammer toe progression before surgery is your only option? We’re here to help! Call the office today, at 516-804-9038, for help with hammer toes. Otherwise, click this link to request a hammer toe consultation in our office.