Hammer, mallet, and claw toes have distinctive differences that can assist you in determining what kind of toe problem you are dealing with. All three conditions deal with toes that are curved into
abnormal positions, which possibly look strange and may cause pain. Typically, the big toe is not affected by these problems. A hammertoe
tends to bend downward at the center of a toe joint. It generally affects your second toe. The affliction causes
the center of your toe to rise and is often accompanied with a bony lump.
Flat feet can result in hammertoes, this is due to poor mechanics off the foot. High arched feet can also result in buckling toes. A major cause is in hereditary, all the toe conditions mentioned
could be acquired due in hereditary factors. Bunions are a major cause of hammertoes. Claw toes are usually the result of a shoe that is too short. For many people, the second toe is actually longer
than the great toe, and if shoes are sized to fit the great toe, the second (and maybe even the third toe) will have to bend to fit into the shoe. Shoes that are pointed make matters even worse.
Combine pointed shoes with high heels, the foot is under similar pressure as if it was constantly being pushed downhill into a wall. Rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to bunions, which in turn can
lead to hammer toes.
Well-developed hammertoes are distinctive due to the abnormal bent shape of the toe. However, there are many other common symptoms. Some symptoms may be present before the toe becomes overly bent or
fixed in the contracted position. Often, before the toe becomes permanently contracted, there will be pain or irritation over the top of the toe, particularly over the joint. The symptoms are
pronounced while wearing shoes due to the top hammertoes
of the toe rubbing against the upper portion of the shoe. Often, there is a
significant amount of friction between the toe and the shoe or between the toe and the toes on either side of it. The corns may be soft or hard, depending on their location and age. The affected toe
may also appear red with irritated skin. In more severe cases, blisters or open sores may form. Those with diabetes should take extra care if they develop any of these symptoms, as they could lead to
The treatment options vary with the type and severity of each hammer toe, although identifying the deformity early in its development is important to avoid surgery. Your podiatric physician will
examine and X-ray the affected area and recommend a treatment plan specific to your condition.
Non Surgical Treatment
What will a doctor do? Treat any foot complaints such as corns, calluses by periodically reducing the lesion and applying appropriate pads and dressings. Recommend the silicone toe prop. If an
infection is present, then anti-septic dressings, antibiotics and pads to redistribute pressure away from the lesion may be necessary. In the case of a mallet toe, trigger toe or claw toe. If a corn
occurs at the end of the toe, a silicone or leather prop may be used to straighten the toe. In a hammertoe deformity, a silicone prop to redistribute pressure away from a corn may be necessary. The
doctor may give footwear advice. In severe cases, corrective surgery may be necessary. The doctor may recommend orthosis to correct a mechanical complaint of the foot, such as 3/4 length silicone
Surgery may not help how your foot looks. And your toe problems may also come back after surgery. This is more likely if you keep wearing the kinds of shoes that cause toe problems. Your expectations
will play a large role in how you feel about the results of surgery. If you are only having surgery to improve the way your foot looks, you may not be happy with how it turns out.