Mild hammertoe cases that develop due to wearing shoes that are too tight, pointy or small can be corrected by wearing shoes that fit properly, explains Healthline. Manipulating and splinting hammertoes can correct mild cases in children, notes MedlinePlus. Severe cases require an operation to straighten the toe joint.
If the hammertoe developed in someone who has a high foot arch, placing toe pads or insoles in the shoes can help relieve pain and may shift the toe's position, which can correct the toe's appearance, according to Healthline. Stretching the affected toe gently may also help it to reposition. Doctors may also suggest performing specific foot exercises to help restore muscle balance in the toe, notes WebMD. If the toe is not able to flex, having hammertoe surgery is the only option for straightening the toe and restoring movement.
While there are few options available for curing a hammertoe without surgery, there are many things a person can do to minimize pain and discomfort, such as wearing extra-wide shoes, using unmedicated hammertoe pads, and regularly massaging the toe. A podiatrist can also create a custom-designed insert for the shoe to keep the hammertoe from getting worse, notes WebMD. Cortisone injections, oral pain relievers or ice packs can help reduce pain and minimize swelling.