A hammer toe is when a toe is bent over like a claw, typically seen on the second to fifth toes in both children and adults. There can be several causes in children, pressure from a bunion, wearing shoes that they have outgrown, or a congenital birth defect. If hammer toe is treated early, you can most likely avoid surgery. In any case, a physician should be involved in the treatment process.
Visit your family doctor. Your physician can confirm hammer toe with a quick examination and tell you the most effective forms of treatment. According to the "American Academy of Pediatrics Textbook of Pediatric Care," if the hammer toe has been present since infancy, it is more likely to be hereditary and can be a birth defect; however, if its appearance is later in childhood, it is easy to correct if caught early.
Check your child's shoes. Make sure he has not grown out of his shoes. Monitor his foot growth carefully, especially during growth spurts. When in doubt, move on to the next size.
Tape the toe. At the initial stages of hammer toe, the toe is still flexible and can be corrected easily. Apply a corn pad on the joint of the curled toe. Straighten out the toe and tape it to the toes on each side. This should hold it in an appropriate position to correct itself. Do not perform this step if your child is diabetic or has poor circulation in her feet; consult your physician first.
Splint the toe. Your doctor can prescribe a rubber splint that can be attached to the hammer toe with a rubber band.
Discuss surgery with your physician if the condition does not improve. There are several types of surgery which can correct hammer toes, depending if the toe is flexible or rigid.
Talk to your physician when you first notice the hammer toe. A physician can confirm its presence and guide you on any necessary treatment. There are many variables to consider during diagnosis. Only your physician can be certain that the hammer toe is not an indication of a more serious problem.