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Hammer Toe in Children: Care Instructions


A hammer toe is a toe that bends up at the middle joint, while the end of the toe points down. The problem usually happens to the second toe.

A hammer toe can hurt a lot, especially as the toe rubs against the shoe when your child walks. Shoes that are too tight can cause hammer toes. If a shoe forces a toe to stay bent for a long time, the muscles in the toe get tight and the tendons that connect the muscles to the bone get shorter. Over time, the muscles cannot straighten the toe. Sometimes, diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis also can cause hammer toes.

Early treatment can help your child's toe straighten before it gets badly bent. Your child can wear roomy shoes and use pads to keep the toe from rubbing against their shoe. If the toe is badly bent, your child may need surgery to straighten it.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child wear shoes that have lots of room in the toes.
  • Follow your doctor's directions for putting a splint on your child's toe, if your child is given one.
  • Gently stretch your child's toe with your fingers.
  • Use toe pads or corn cushions to keep your child's toe from rubbing against their shoe. This may keep a corn from forming on the top of the toe.
  • Have your child wear a shoe insert, or orthotic, to cushion the bottom of the bent toe.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child's pain gets worse.
  • Your child's toe still bothers them even after wearing proper shoes and pads or cushions.
  • You want to know more about surgery to straighten your child's toe.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.