Hammertoe, claw toe, and mallet toe are related toe deformities that affect the small toes, impacting walking and balance. These deformities result when the pressure on the toes exceeds their joint strength, often due to weak joints, muscle imbalances, or tissue weakness in the lower part of the toe joint. Claw toe involves upward bending of the toe joint at the ball of the foot, with the middle and sometimes end joint curving downward, resembling a claw. It can affect any toes except the big toe. With hammertoe, the toe bends at the middle joint, creating a curled appearance. Hammertoe most commonly affects the second toe, and it often coexists with bunions. Mallet toe is similar to hammertoe but involves the last joint rather than the knuckle joint, resulting in a mallet-like appearance at the end of the toe. Causes of these conditions include wearing ill fitting shoes, high arches, and genetics. Additionally, arthritis, diabetes, tendon imbalances, and neurological conditions can be a cause of developing hammertoe. Treatment options range from padding, orthotic devices, and wearing proper footwear to surgical interventions, including tendon release, joint adjustments, and bone modifications. Surgery is considered when non-operative methods fail to alleviate pain or correct the deformity. If you have toe problems or pain, it is suggested that you make an appointment with a podiatrist for a proper diagnosis and treatment right for you.
Hammertoes can be a painful condition to live with. For more information, contact Gary J. Kaiserman, DPM of Achilles Footcare Center. Our doctor will answer any of your foot- and ankle-related questions.
Hammertoe is a foot deformity that occurs due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. It can be caused by the type of shoes you wear, your foot structure, trauma, and certain disease processes.
- Painful and/or difficult toe movement
- Joint stiffness
- Physical deformity
- Age – The risk of hammertoe increases with age
- Sex – Women are more likely to have hammertoe compared to men
- Toe Length – You are more likely to develop hammertoe if your second toe is longer than your big toe
- Certain Diseases – Arthritis and diabetes may make you more likely to develop hammertoe
If you have hammertoe, you should change into a more comfortable shoe that provides enough room for your toes. Exercises such as picking up marbles may strengthen and stretch your toe muscles. Nevertheless, it is important to seek assistance from a podiatrist in order to determine the severity of your hammertoe and see which treatment option will work best for you.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our offices located in Forest Lane and West Kiest Boulevard Dallas, TX . We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.