It is sometimes possible to correct a hammer toe, which bends down at the middle joint, by choosing the proper footwear, using cushioning or inserts, wrapping the toe or performing toe exercises, according to WebMD. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen are often taken to reduce pain.
To improve hammer toes, shoes should have lots of space in their toe boxes, low heels and supportive arches, advises WebMD. It is possible to purchase shoes specifically designed for people with foot problems. Some individuals choose custom-made shoes to get all the desired features. Moleskin and toe tubes also cushion hammer toes. Some people find relief through the use of commercial inserts or professionally made orthotics.
A hammer toe that is still flexible is a candidate for taping, explains WebMD. The tape runs under the big toe, over the hammer toe and under the third toe. The toe is repositioned properly but temporarily. Toe caps, slings and splints sometimes fit over a hammer toe to straighten it.
For some people, exercises help toes retain flexibility and strength, notes WebMD. During toe curls, the person uses only his toes to grip a towel under the foot. In another exercise, individual marbles are picked up by the toes and dropped into a cup. It is also possible to use the hands to gently stretch a bent joint into the proper position.