Hammer, claw, and mallet toes are toes that do not have the right shape. They may look odd or may hurt, or both. Tight shoes are the most common cause of these toe problems. A Hammer toe
is a toe that bends down toward the floor at the middle
toe joint. It usually happens in the second toe. This causes the middle toe joint to rise up. Hammer toes often occur with bunions. Claw toe often happens in the four smaller toes at the same time.
The toes bend up at the joints where the toes and the foot meet. They bend down at both the middle joints and at the joints nearest the tip of the toes. This causes the toes to curl down toward the
floor. A mallet toe often happens to the second toe, but it may happen in the other toes as well. The toe bends down at the joint closest to the tip of the toe.
Factors that may increase you risk of hammertoe and mallet toe include age. The risk of hammertoe and mallet toe increases with age. Your sex. Women are much more likely to develop hammertoe or
mallet toe than are men. Toe length. If your second toe is longer than your big toe, it's at higher risk of hammertoe or mallet toe.
A hammertoe causes you discomfort when you walk. It can also cause you pain when trying to stretch or move the affected toe or those around it. Hammertoe symptoms may be mild or severe. Mild
Symptoms, a toe that is bent downward, corns or calluses. Severe Symptoms, difficulty walking, the inability to flex your foot or wiggle your toes, claw-like toes. See your doctor or podiatrist right
away if you develop any of these symptoms.
First push up on the bottom of the metatarsal head associated with the affected toe and see if the toe straightens out. If it does, then an orthotic could correct the problem, usually with a
metatarsal pad. If the toe does not straighten out when the metatarsal head is pushed up, then that indicates that contracture in the capsule and ligaments (capsule contracts because the joint was in
the wrong position for too long) of the MTP joint has set in and surgery is required. Orthotics are generally required post-surgically.
Non Surgical Treatment
Inserts in your shoes can be used to help relieve pressure on the toes from the deformity. Splints/Straps. These can be used to help re-align and stretch your toes and correct the muscle imbalance
and tendon shortening. One of the most common types are toe stretchers like the yogatoe. Chiropody. A chiropodist can remove calluses or corns, areas of hard skin that have formed to make the foot
more comfortable.Steroid injections can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
Sometimes, if the deformity is severe enough or surgical modification is needed, the toe bones hammertoe
may be fused so that the toe does
not bend. Buried wires are used to allow for the fusion to heal, and they remain in place after healing. Your skin is closed with fine sutures, which are typically removed seven to ten days after
surgery. A dressing is used to help keep your toes in their new position. Dressings should not get wet or be removed. After surgery, your doctor may prescribe pain relievers, typically for the
initial four to seven days. Most people heal completely within one month of surgery, with few complications, if any. Crutches or a cane may be needed to help you keep weight off your affected foot,
depending on the procedure. Occasionally, patients receive a special post-op shoe or a walking boot that is to be worn during the healing process. Most people are able to shower normally after
surgery, but must protect the dressing from getting wet. Many patients are allowed to resume driving within one week after the procedure, but care needs to be taken.