Tips For Straightening Toes

Lauren Caggiano

Written by Lauren Caggiano on Tue Jun 20 2023.

Woman helping another woman with shoes.

Human feet are impressive when you consider how much they do for us. Think about how they support you and help you get around. Feet work through a combination of muscles, tendons, and nerves that let us participate in everyday activities. When everything is working properly, we can move freely without pain or discomfort. 

However, as we age or develop certain health conditions, we might notice that our toes are affected, making it harder to perform instrumental activities of daily living. This article will cover some of the causes and symptoms of crooked toes and how you can find relief. 

What are The Top Causes of Toe Conditions?

Overlapping toes are commonly caused by decreased muscle strength in the toes. Wearing tight shoes or high-heeled shoes can cause the muscles to get constricted and force one or more toes over the others. Having a hammertoe or a bunion on the foot can be contributing factors. There also might be a genetic reason. Age plays a role, too. That’s because the bones weaken as we age, and the chances of arthritis increase.

Wearing restrictive or improper footwear without much relief is one of the significant causes of mallet toe. The last joint of the toe can be especially sensitive, so substantial pressure for a long period can cause it to wear down. Arthritis can also weaken the bones, causing an imbalance. In addition, other health conditions can cause toe issues. For instance, diabetes, cerebral palsy, Charcot-Marie tooth disease, and stroke can all lead to claw toes.

If you or your loved one have diabetes, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. “This is a leading cause of toe amputations,” Allison Rottman, DPM, a podiatrist with Banner–University Medicine in Arizona, stated in an article on the organization’s website. That’s why a healthcare professional must examine your feet regularly to check for calluses and wounds.

Symptoms of Toe Conditions

Overlapping Toes

Still, calluses and wounds aren’t the only signs something is wrong. For example, overlapping toes are often marked by redness between the affected toes and increasing toe pain or foot pain. The toe may look inflamed, but that’s not always the case. How a person walks can also be a sign of a toe condition. If their gate changes noticeably, that might be a cause for concern.

Hammer Toe

In the case of hammer toe, a person might complain of corns or calluses and excruciating pain when trying to move the first toe. It also changes how they stand and walk. You can tell a mallet toe by redness and soreness near the affected toe. In addition, they might complain of foot pain and swelling in the area surrounding the toe. 

Claw Toe

As the name suggests, you’ll notice the toe forms a claw-like shape. It’s often diagnosed as a mixture of mallet toe and hammer toe. The ball joint is thrust upwards while the middle joint is bent downwards, making the foot or toe look like a claw. This condition causes the toes to dig into the ground when the person walks, leading to corns and calluses which can cause toe pain.

How Can I Avoid Toe Problems?

A doctor will tell you that preventing a toe condition in the first place is the best way to avoid pain and discomfort in the feet as you age. Here are a few tips to help prevent toe problems:

  • Wear properly fitting shoes: Restricting the movement of the toes is a major cause of toe conditions. That’s why it’s important to get fitted for shoes so you don’t risk wearing a pair that’s so tight it restricts movement. Look for shoes that have a wider toebox. You can also ask your podiatrist for recommendations for orthopedic footwear or orthotic insoles that are designed specifically for your feet.

  • Avoid high heels: If you’re genetically predisposed to toe problems or bone weaknesses, your doctor will want you to avoid high-heeled shoes.

  • Get medical advice: You don’t want to take any chances regarding foot health. The later a toe problem is diagnosed and treated, the harder it is to reverse. That’s why you should consult a specialist and follow their advice as soon as possible.

What Are My Options For Straightening My Toes?

You might be happy to learn that surgery is usually the last resort. While it can offer more certainty in correcting the conditions, it is only used for those where non-surgical methods aren’t working.

As with any major decision about your health, it’s best to consult your doctor for more information about how surgery can help. At the same time, non-surgical options are affordable and can help maintain quality of life. Here’s a look at some of the most common products on the market and how they can help:

  • Toe corn pads: Corns and calluses form when recurring pressure or friction occurs on a specific area. If these issues aren’t addressed, it can become painful. Toe corn pads treat corns, calluses, and warts. They work by increasing the moisture level in the skin and dissolving the substance that makes the skin cells stick together.

  • Toe Splints: Toe splints keep the toe in place, helping to reduce any further complications due to any jerks or improper movement of the joint.

  • Gel tubes: Gel tubes are sleeves that can be applied to the affected toe to reduce friction and provide padding. 

  • Toe loops: Toe loops function similarly to gel tubes and can be worn on multiple toes together. Tightening the loops can also help correct the posture of the toe if the condition hasn’t advanced.

  • Toe cushions: Toe cushions protect the toe from jerks and the formation of corns and calluses. They support the toes when walking or standing. The loop on the top can be worn on the affected toe for targeted relief.

  • Toe straighteners: These are worn over the affected toe and help change the shape of the toe.

Need Help?

If you need help finding the perfect product, talk to one of our Caregiving Specialists today. Call (800) 696-CARE. We're here to support you, 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

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Lauren Caggiano
Lauren Caggiano

Lauren Caggiano is an Indiana-based copywriter/editor, ACE certified personal trainer and ACE certified health coach. She has a passion for health and wellness and helping people live fuller and richer lives.