Hammertoe, Claw Toe and Mallet Toe

Hammertoe, Claw Toe and Mallet Toe Introduction

Hammertoe, mallet toe and claw toe describe an issue that develops where the toes are bent. This can create discomfort and friction against footwear, which can lead to additional issues, such as corns, they often coexist with bunions and can often be caused by them.

The difference between these are:

Hammertoe – The toe bends down towards the floor from the middle joint, this then causes the middle toe joint to rise up. This most commonly affects the second toe, but can affect the other lesser toes also. It is less common in the fifth toe.

Claw toe – The toe bends up where the toes and the foot meet and bend down at the middle joint. This often affects all four of the lesser toes.

Mallet toe – The toe bends down at the joint closest to the end of the toe. It most commonly affects the second and third toes but can affect other lesser toes.

Hammertoe, Claw Toe and Mallet Toe Symptoms

The toe issues can create pressure on the foot when wearing shoes and cause discomfort when walking. The joints themselves can be arthritic and painful.

Hammertoe, Claw Toe and Mallet Toe Causes

Toe issues occur due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. These may be the result of another problem, such as Bunions.

The type of shoe that you wear, your foot type or injury can exacerbate and contribute to the development of these issues.

Hammertoe, Claw Toe and Mallet Toe Treatment

Unless the problem has progressed to a stage that requires toe surgery, simple conservative measures are recommended in the first instance. These might include:

  • Anti-inflammatory Medicines: To relieve pain and decrease inflammation
  • Injections: A cortisone injection can further help relieve pain and inflammation in more severe cases
  • Physical Therapy: Physiotherapy can be useful to stretch tight muscles and tendons that are causing the hammertoe
  • Bespoke Orthotics: A biomechanical specialist can design and manufacture a custom insole to resolve discomfort and prevent progression of the deformity
  • Toe Splints or Pads: Splints and pads can be helpful to realign the affected toe and prevent discomfort when walking in footwear

Toe Surgery

If more conservative measures are not successful in eradicating symptoms then surgery may become the recommended treatment.