How to Straighten a Hammertoe

Written by adrian archer
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How to Straighten a Hammertoe
More comfortable shoes help with hammertoe. (toes image by Sandra Henderson from

A hammertoe is a toe bent in the middle joint, which makes the toe looked curled. Although accidents and genetic deformities can cause hammertoe, the most common culprit is tight, uncomfortable footwear. Shoes with tight toe boxes and high-heel shoes are common culprits, as they tend to force toes toward the front of the shoe. This results in an unnatural bending of your toe and a hammer-like appearance. Solutions for straightening a hammertoe range from the conservative to the invasive. Pain and pressure will alleviate if you can care for your hammertoe in a timely fashion.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Shoe inserts

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  1. 1

    Wear comfortable shoes with plenty of room in the toe box so your toes can lie flat. Stop wearing shoes that have small toe boxes, or high-heel shoes that push your toes forward. Have 1/2-inch between your longest toe and the end of the toe box. Eventually, your toes will flatten and uncurl into a more natural looking position.

  2. 2

    Wear shoe inserts. Inserts can help reinforce the natural position of your toes. When worn in conjunction with more comfortable shoes, inserts can help relieve pain, pressure and swelling as well as giving your toes a straighter look.

  3. 3

    Consult with a doctor regarding surgery. If conservative methods such as roomier footwear and shoe inserts fail, that may mean the affected toe is too rigid for these means to correct. Surgery for hammertoe, including the realigning or cutting of toe tendons, requires minimal hospital time and you have a quick recovery. The doctor may also need to shave bones if the curl in the toe is too severe.

Tips and warnings

  • To avoid hammertoe in the first place, be more careful when choosing your footwear. Buy shoes after midday, as your feet are at their smallest in the morning and swell as the day progresses. Don't assume both of your feet are the same size; measure them both and try shoes on both feet before purchasing. In general, avoid high-heel shoes if possible and delete shoes with tight toe boxes from your closet.

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