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What is the treatment for hammertoe?

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Quick Answer

The treatment for hammertoe can include wearing shoe inserts or pads that help reposition the toe and exercises to stretch and strengthen the affected toe, according to Mayo Clinic. In some severe cases, surgery may be required to release the muscle that is causing the toe to bend. Some pieces of bones in the toe may need to be removed during surgery.

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Full Answer

Hammertoe occurs when there is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe, according to Mayo Clinic. It usually occurs in the toe closest to the big toe. It can be painful and in some cases, affect the ability to walk properly. Hammertoe may be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight in the toe area, resulting in one of the toes curling on top of another to make room. Other causes include toe injuries such as a stubbed or broken toe. Having nerve damage in the foot can also make the affected toe susceptible to hammertoe.

In addition to realignment inserts or pads, a podiatrist may custom fit the affected foot with a foot device known as a regulator or straightener. Some toe stretching and strengthening exercises a doctor may suggest include picking up marbles or a thin towel with the toes, according to Mayo Clinic. Surgery may be recommended as a last resort if the hammertoe is severe or very painful.

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