How to brace a hammertoe

Updated March 23, 2017

A hammertoe is an often painful condition in which a toe's first joint is deformed such that the toe bends upward, then sharply downward, looking something like a claw. As the toe remains in this position, often because of footwear that crowds the toes together, the tendons in the toe shrink and adjust to make the condition permanent. Hammertoes can be painful and often require surgery. Before any surgical treatment, though, various bracing techniques and orthotic equipment can be used to alleviate the condition.

Tape your hammertoe into place by using the toes on either side of it as splints. Wrap surgical or adhesive tape around the toe next to the hammertoe. Bring the tape over the top of the hammertoe, gently forcing it into the correct position. Continue to wrap the tape around the toe on the other side of the hammertoe. Bracing the toe with its neighbouring toes as splints will not cure the hammertoe condition, but it will alleviate pain and discomfort, and allow you to wear shoes normally.

Use a simple toe brace made of clear plastic and gel-filled fabric to treat a hammertoe while wearing open-toed shoes. The brace will consist of a clear plastic shell, which goes over the top of the hammertoe and forces it into the correct position, and a padded or gel-filled cushion that goes under the toe. Gently slide the hammertoe into the toe brace before putting on shoes. Wearing the brace should be more comfortable for the hammertoe than going without it because of the support and cushioning it provides.

Pad the hammertoe when wearing a toe brace if pain is caused by toes rubbing together. Lambs wool, cotton balls, silicone pads or foam can be place between toes that chafe each other due to a hammertoe. If you are experiencing pain on the tip of the toe due to the hammertoe forcing it to come into contact with the sole of your shoe, a special brace called a crest pad will transfer the painful pressure to other toes.

Brace your hammertoe with a toe spreader, a plastic brace that goes between two toes to keep them from chafing each other. Make sure your shoes are wide enough at the toes to accommodate the full width of your foot with no crowding and that there is room enough for the toe spreader as well.

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