A common result of wearing narrow-toed, high-heeled shoes is that toes can become crooked due to the ligaments and tendons warping. What happens is the chronic pressure and stress inflames the toes; the big toe in particular can develop a bunion. After a fracture or another type of dislocation, toes can remain crooked and any additional trauma will only make your toes worse. There are, however, many nonsurgical methods to straighten toes, depending on the severity of cause. You may require corrective surgery if the problem worsens, but first it is helpful to try some easy ways on your own.
How to Straighten Toes
If you act quickly after a minor toe injury, by trying some of these methods, you may be able to treat the joint problem in your toes effectively without surgery.
1. Change Your Shoes
Look for shoes with a spacious toe box, stable arch support, and low heels. Shoe that don't rub your toe, sandals or athletic shoes, for example, are good options. There are custom-made shoes that help people with chronic problems. These are known as orthopedic shoes and can be purchased ready-made or custom-made.
2. Support Your Toes
There are a variety of products available to cushion or help the toes rest in a more comfortable position; you can use moleskin, toe tubes, arch supports, or orthotic inserts. If your toe is still flexible and mobile, this treatment is more effective. Although it's not a permanent way for how to straighten toes, it can still provide pain relief.
3. Take Over the Counter Medication
Before taking anything, make sure you never cut corns or calluses since this could lead to infection. Rather, try to use moleskin to buffer the friction between a shoe and the area injured. If the pain is severe, try over the counter medicine like acetaminophen, naproxen, or ibuprofen. Double check with your general physician before using these medications, and be sure to read and follow all instructions.
4. Correct Dislocations
It is possible to realign your toe by having a specialist like a podiatrist or a chiropractor actually correct the dislocation manually. There will be an immediate feeling of relief. Also, it is common that a toe can realign on its own after accidental foot trauma like a stubbed toe or even after an intentional trauma like kicking a ball. The sooner the joint is realigned, the less chance there is of lasting damage and the need for surgical treatment for how to straighten toes.
5. Taping Your Toes
By taping from under the big toe, over the hammer toe, and then under the next toe you can stabilize the hammer toe. This will force it into its standard natural position. This will most likely not keep the toe permanently straightened, but it will assist in the short term.
- Toe-Spread: Cross the leg with the injured toe over the opposite leg and using your hand, place one finger between the hammer toe and the adjacent toe. Depending on how flexible your toes are, squeeze your finger with your toes and repeat while interlocking your fingers and your toes. Perform this at least once a day and try to do 10 reps at a time.
- Toe Taps: Just like you would tap your fingers one by one on the edge of a table, put your barefoot on the floor and flex your toes upward to begin. One by one, starting with the small toe, tap your toe back onto the floor working back to the big toe. Repeat this exercise 10 times per day for relief.
- Floor Grip: While standing barefoot focus on the pads of your foot when you stretch your toes outward to straighten them as much as possible. This aids in the realignment of the bones in your hammer toe. The proximal phalanx will be able to return to a normal position since the proximal interphalangeal joint will be relaxed from the exercise.
- Towel Exercises: This is an easy way for how to straighten toes. While sitting or standing, simply crumple up a towel with your toes. Put a small towel on the floor and collect it with your toes and then straighten the towel out again. This will help to loosen up the joints and ultimately straighten out your toes. If you can, experts recommend picking up the towel using your toes to strengthen the muscles to help heal your hammer toe.
- Manual Stretches: With your legs crossed, pull the injured toes with your hand back and forth. Hold the stretch in each direction for several seconds to deepen the stretch. This will help to reverse the crooked toe.
Do You Need Surgery to Straighten Your Toes?
There are many reasons for needing a surgery to straighten your toes. Ultimately, the biggest reason is because your toe limits regular activity and the joint is completely immobile. This is especially the case if the pain is completely uncontrollable. Surgery will reduce the pain from the crooked or hammered toe despite the atheistic result. If you have a flexible toe with a problem that isn't healing on its own, then a doctor can surgically move the tendons to release tension from the joint. They may also need to work on the bones if the problem is more severe. After surgery, it is highly recommended to not return to wearing shoes that caused the problem initially.