THE ORIGINS of hammertoe problems, and what constitutes a good hammertoe remedy, will be the topic for this article.
There are so many different types of braces we can utilize for all sorts of injuries to our bodies. To be honest, when I created this website of braces to address all these issues, I didn’t even consider specific braces designed for toe problems.
As it turns out, there is a good portion of society that would be looking for a hammertoe remedy. According to research from 2012 conducted by the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, 3% of the American population over 21 have had, or currently experiencing, hammertoe symptoms – that’s around 7 million people!
They also found the problem to be more prevalent in women. While I didn’t find any data as to why this is the case, it seems to be logical when you find out what some of the causes are that lead to hammertoe, which I will bring to light as you read on.
What is Hammertoe?
Also known as “mallet toe”, this is the result of toes not being held flat and/or straight due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments. What usually develops from these imbalances, is that the middle joint of the affected toe(s) will be pulled upwards and also sideways in some cases. It may happen to 2 or 3 toes at the same time.
Once this develops, there are other side complications that can also come into play. While wearing shoes, the raised joint of the toe will constantly be receiving pressure and friction, resulting in possible ulcerations, calluses, blisters, or corns.
This all combines to create a painful situation while walking, and certainly while running (if you’re still able to).
So you can see why people would be seeking out a hammertoe remedy – this can be painful on a couple levels.
What Are The Causes?
Improper shoe wear is a BIG culprit!
Poor fitting or just plain bad design leads to so many problems, and hammertoe is right up there at the top, and I would put high heels at the top of this heap.
Just think about the shape and design of most high-heeled shoes. The heel is raised up, which exerts undue pressure on the toes. If the the design is also a pointed toe, your body weight is adding to the force and pressure of crunching your toes into a very odd and cramped space.
Another obvious group that fits the bill here are ballerinas.
These two reasons are where women would be at higher risk as I alluded to earlier.
Bone structure – a change can develop in the structure of the foot. The ball of the foot can “drop” below the level of the toes, in effect suspending the toes upwards and preventing them from making contact with the floor or shoe. The muscles of the toes will contract in an effort to re-establish that lost contact point(s), creating the “hammer” appearance. (This is more of an effect or symptom than a cause. What causes the bone structure to change would be another discussion)
A side effect of diabetes where the mechanics of the foot and toes are altered due to nerve, or muscle damage, or a combination of both.
Improper healing from a broken bone or badly jammed toe.
Suffering a stroke, or arthritis, will also cause nerves and/or muscles in the toes to be compromised.
Heredity can be a predisposition factor, as is the case with many things.
Age – the older we get, the more likely this can develop.
Length of the 2nd toe – studies have shown that if the second toe is longer than the big toe, you may be more prone to get hammertoe.
Bunions – in some cases, a bunion may act the same as a crowded shoe, pushing the big toe towards the others and thereby creating hammertoe. One problem leads to another. (a bunion is a growth on the outside edge of the foot on the big toe)
The Achilles tendon once in a while can be involved with the problem too.
So there are 10 reasons that so many people would be searching for a hammertoe remedy.
What Can Be Done to Correct Hammertoe?
If you already have hammertoe – some good news ….. in all but the more severe cases, this can be fixed without surgical intervention! Always a good thing in my book 😉
Not all hammertoe problems are the same, so there are a few ways to correct this.
However, I’ll say right up front, that if you buy a corrective device that can be worn while wearing shoes, make sure that there is ample room in the front of the shoe for the added space that the device will take up. The last thing you want to do is add to the problem of cramped toes in shoes that are too tight.
- Toe wraps – just as it sounds, this is a thin elastic wrap that can be wrapped around the hammertoe and the one next to it, in attempt to straighten out the affected toe. These will take up next to zero extra room in your shoe space, however, if your toes are short or curved to the side, there could be a problem with keeping them on and in place. These may give some help, but probably minimal at best.
- Toe separators – these are typically made of a soft gel material, and meant to slide around and separate the toes. There are several styles available within this group of corrective devices, and they claim to help hammertoes, but I have my doubts with them. The desired principle to correct hammertoe doesn’t seem to be there – that being to pull the raised joint back down into place. Plus they are made as “one size fits all”, which when it comes to toes, isn’t going to work very well with all the various sizes and shapes of toes.
- Hammertoe crest pads – these are similar to the toe separators, but have a wider pad that is at the bottom side of the toes. The flexible ring that slips over the toe, in my opinion, would be too flexible to have enough strength to pull the arched joint back down.
- Ball of foot cushions – there are times when hammertoe problems will coincide with discomfort at the ball of the foot. These cushions are meant to help cushion this area, but will not do any correction to the toe joint affected, and technically wouldn’t be a hammertoe remedy.
- **Toe Straightener by Welnove** – this is the one that would be my choice if it was me that was looking for a hammertoe remedy. As you can see, it has a generous sized and stiff(ish) pad that goes under the toes and gives the adjustable loops that go around the toes, something strong enough to pull against and apply downward, gentle pressure on the toe joints. It can be trimmed to fit, making it more comfortable to wear in your shoe. The whole idea for a hammertoe remedy should be to apply downward pressure to relax the contracted muscles that create the hammertoe effect. This would do the job in my opinion.
- Bracket Bunion Corrector by Tenmand – while this one isn’t technically for hammertoes, it looks like it would be very effective for bunion correction, and if part of the problem was hammertoe, then this hammertoe remedy would help indirectly. I really like this concept of an adjustable lever type of setup, and it also has a strap to pull the next toe if it crooked, and it has a 3 step approach that includes arch support which can be affected by toes that are misaligned. This a very versatile system, not just a one dimensional strap, cushion, or brace. With the size of this device, you obviously can’t wear it with shoes, and it is meant to be worn either while relaxing at home or while sleeping.
How About Prevention?
How can you prevent it from happening to begin with, or stop it from happening to other toes?
In looking at the causes I listed, the only thing that we are in direct control of is footwear, so……
First and foremost is to address your shoes. This is the single most important issue to be aware of. As stated previously, make sure there is plenty of room for your toes to “breathe” and not be cramped in any way. Also, stay away from heels that are too high, tipping your weight towards your toes.
Also, on the shoe topic, buying ones that have adjustability would be ideal.
Buy your shoes at the end of the day. When you’re on your feet all day, they tend to swell slightly. So if you bought a pair in the morning and they fit snugly then, by the end of the day, they would be too tight.
As we age, our feet change shape, especially in width. So if you have a favorite pair from years ago, they may not be the proper size now and cause a hammertoe concern.
Other than that, diet would be the only thing that we can adjust to ensure that hammertoe doesn’t come about from the food we eat. It’s more rare for this to be the cause, but it can happen.
Bringing This Topic to a Close
Bringing to light what constitutes a good hammertoe remedy has been enlightening for me, and I hope it was for you as well.
Maybe you have another angle to present that I didn’t?
I would love it if you would share, not only with me, but those who read this article.
Please leave your input below, and I will promptly respond.
All the best,
Disclaimer: I am trained in a holistic modality, but not as a doctor, so this post or website should not be taken as medical advice. Please do your own research. Material on this blog is the result of either my own experience or research, and is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to your specific situation, and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.
Please use discernment in the consideration of purchasing any type of health related products via the internet. Educating yourself prior to buying is always suggested and recommended.