Can A Toe Splint Help Hammer Toe?

If you’ve been searching for ways to treat hammer toes, you may have come across toe splints.

These come in a large variety of different types, and like a normal splint, they’re designed to keep the toe straight and immobile to strengthen tendons and muscles.

You can get the same effect by taping a hammer toe, but a splint is much easier and more convenient to use.

But can a toe splint help hammer toe effectively?

Ultimately, it depends on the progression of the hammer toe. Let’s have a look at toe splints and their use for treating hammer toes.

What Is a Toe Splint?

A toe splint is an orthotic device that’s designed to support the toes and prevent them from deviating from their natural alignment.

Toe splint is a catch-all term. They come in a variety of types, including splints, wraps, socks, and toe separators. These are all common treatments for hammer toes to choose from.

These devices all apply gentle pressure to the toe. They help to prevent the toes from bending, rubbing up against each other, or rubbing against the upper of your shoe.

Toe splints will help to alleviate the discomfort of hammer toe and they can help prevent the condition from getting worse.

How Does a Hammer Toe Splint Help?

Hammer toes are a progressive foot condition that can affect your second to fifth toes. There are two different types of hammer toe; flexible and rigid hammer toe.

Flexible hammer toes are less serious, as you’re still able to move the joint. This makes it possible to treat and reduce the symptoms of the hammer toe without surgery. You may still experience pain and discomfort even though there’s still a good range of movement.

A rigid hammer toe is more serious, as the tendons and soft tissues have become tight. This pulls the joint out of alignment and can lead to the loss of function in the affected toe.

A splint will gently pull your toe back into its correct alignment. This can alleviate pain and reduce friction, as the toe is no longer rubbing against the toe next to it or against the upper of your hammer toe shoe.

A hammer toe splint can help to prevent the tendons and muscles from becoming tight, which is what forces the toe into a curled position.

Can They Help With Both Flexible and Rigid Hammer Toe?

If your hammer toe is still flexible, then using a toe splint can help stabilize the joint. It will also help to loosen the soft tissues around the toe, prevent it from rubbing against your other toe, and it can help alleviate pain.

Toe splints will help prevent blisters, ulcerations, and corns from forming on the toes. They will also help you go about your daily activities pain-free.

For toe splints to be effective, you’d need to combine your treatment to include hammer toe exercises. This will help correct muscle imbalances and restore the balance between the extensor muscles and your toe flexors.

You’ll also find that your range of motion will increase, and muscle soreness will be reduced.

Unfortunately, if your hammer toe is rigid, then a toe splint will be less effective. It can still provide support, help to alleviate pain, and prevent your toe from rubbing against the shoe or the toes next to it.

But it won’t offer the same level of support and alignment as it would with a flexible hammer toe.

What Are the Different Types of Hammer Toe Splints?

Toe Wraps

Toe wraps are non-invasive, thin, soft elastic sheets of fabric that you wrap around the hammer toe and the toe next to it. The adhesive strip helps to keep the wrap in place.

It gently straightens your toe by pulling it into its correct alignment. The toe next to it helps to stabilize the hammer toe by providing firm support. Most toe wraps are lightly padded, which helps to absorb shock and cushion the toe.

Most toe wraps can be washed and reused numerous times.

Toe Socks

Hammer toe socks are made from soft materials and have built-in toe separators. They help to gently realign the toes and give them space to straighten.

The socks prevent the toes from rubbing up against each other and they gently stretch the muscles and tendons. This can help reduce the inflammation and alleviate pain in the toe joints and your forefoot.

Depending on the brand of hammer toe sock you get, they may feature a silicone gel lining, which helps to cushion and relieve pressure points on the foot.

Most socks have cushioning on the sole to help protect the metatarsals and toes from the impact of your foot strikes.

Toe Separators

Toe separators are also known as toe relaxers, toe stretchers, or toe spreaders. They’re often made from soft, medical-grade gel or silicone.

These help to separate the toes, encourage stretching, and loosen tight tendons and muscles. The toe separator will help to reduce the pressure that’s placed on the foot bones and gently realign the toe.

Depending on the brand, you may be able to wear toe separators in your shoes while you’re at work. This will help to stabilize the toe, distribute your weight evenly, and even enhance your balance.

You can start by wearing the toe separators for short amounts of time at first. This will allow you to adjust to the feeling until you’re comfortable wearing them for longer periods.

What Should I Do if the Condition Gets Worse?

If you’ve been using toe splints, correctors, or orthotics for hammer toe, and the condition continues to worsen, you should consult your doctor or podiatrist.

A podiatrist may be able to prescribe medical-grade orthotics that could offer better support for your hammer toes. Alternatively, they may refer you to an orthopedist or prosthetist to design an orthotic based on your own foot’s measurements for a truly custom fit.

If the hammer toe has become rigid and orthotics can’t help at all, then your doctor may recommend surgery to realign the toe, which may restore some movement in the toe.

Weatherford, MD, FAAOS, Brian M. “Hammer Toe – OrthoInfo – AAOS.” Www.orthoinfo.org, 1 Nov. 2020,
www.orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/hammer-toe
Accessed 15 Oct. 2021

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