A hammer toe splint is a device worn on the foot to repair hammer toes, a deformity of the foot that results in claw-like toes. If worn in the early to middling stages of hammer toe, it may reverse any damage that has yet occurred. The only cure for later stages of hammer toe is surgery.
Also called a mallet toe, a hammer toe is a type of foot deformity. Its symptoms include pain in the toe, as well as difficulty moving or bending the toe. In the final stages of hammer toe, the middle joint becomes bent upwards while the bottom of the toe faces downward, creating a claw or hammer like shape. At this point the toe cannot be moved. This irregular position may cause further problems due to the toe rubbing on footwear, causing calluses and corns on the feet, which can also be painful.
There are a number of factors that may cause to hammer toe. Sometimes it is a hereditary condition. Sometimes it is caused by nerve or muscle damage, resulting of diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Breaking or severely jamming the toe may also result in a hammer toe. The most common cause of hammer toe is wearing high-heeled or ill fitting shoes that are not long enough and squeeze the feet.
Remedies for hammer toe are varied and depend on the stage of the problem. If caught at the first stages when the toe is still movable and the only symptom is pain, changing to better fitting shoes may solve the problem. If at the most severe stage where the toe is deformed and immovable, the only solution is surgery.
An intermediate solution for hammer toe is a hammer toe splint, which may be used by an individual whose toe is stiff but still movable. A hammer toe splint is used in an attempt to straighten the toe and correct the deformity. This method is only successful if it is also paired with correct fitting foot wear that has sufficient room for the toes.
The hammer toe splint itself consists of a soft pad that is placed under the ball of the foot. On top of the pad are loops of soft fabric that the problem toes fit through. The loops are then tightened around the toe to straighten them. These loops are designed to keep the toes in their natural flat position, in the hopes of eventually repairing the toe so it can again function properly.