Claw Toes, Hammer Toes & Mallet Toes

Many disorders can affect the joints in the toes causing pain and preventing the foot from functioning as it should.
A Claw or Hammer toe is contracted at the end joints in the toes by ligaments and tendons that have tightened causing the toe joints to curl downwards. Claw or Hammer toes may occur in any toe except the big toe. There is often discomfort at the top part of the toes that is rubbing against the shoe and at the end of the toes that is pressed against the bottom of the shoe. Sometimes a Callous or Corn forms and are the cause of the pain.


Claw or Hammer toes can be either flexible or rigid. A flexible toe has the ability to move and can be straightened manually. A rigid toe does not have the same ability to move, is very limited and can be extremely painful.
A Mallet toe occurs when the joint at the end of the toe cannot straighten. Constant rubbing of the Mallet toe against the top of the shoe can lead to pain and the development of a corn. The tip of the toe is often turned down against the shoe causing pressure and discomfort.


Mallet, Claw or Hammer toes result from a muscle imbalance which causes the ligaments and tendons to become unnaturally tight, this results in the joints curling downwards. Mallet toe may also occur if there is a muscle imbalance, however it is more common to see it affecting an excessively long toe. Arthritis can also lead to many forefoot deformities including Claw, Hammer or Mallet toes.


Treatment and prevention of Claw/Hammer/Mallet Toes. These toe deformities affect many people most of whom are unaware as they do not give rise to pain. Under certain circumstances they will give rise to pain and therefore treatment is indicated. Use of tight ill fitting footwear is one example and also the reason why these conditions cause problems more in women than men. This may give rise to pressure, blisters, calluses or corns. Treatment may include padding and strapping, improving footwear, corrective toe splints, foot orthoses or surgery to straighten the toes.

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