or contracted toe is a deformity of the proximal interphalangeal joint of the second, third, or fourth toe causing it to be
permanently bent, resembling a hammer. Mallet toe is a similar condition affecting the distal interphalangeal joint. Claw toe is another similar condition, with dorsiflexion of the proximal phalanx
on the lesser metatarsophalangeal joint, combined with flexion of both the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints. Claw toe can affect the second, third, fourth, or fifth toes.
Most hammertoes are caused by wearing ill-fitting, tight or high-heeled shoes over a long period of time. Shoes that don't fit well can crowd the toes, putting pressure on the middle toes and causing
them to curl downward. The condition may be more likely when the second toe is longer than the first toe or when the arch of the foot is flat. Hammertoe can also be present at birth (congenital).
Hammertoe also can be caused by a bunion, which is the knobby bump that sometimes develops at the side of the big toe. A bunion causes the big toe to bend toward the other toes. The big toe can then
overlap and crowd the smaller toes. Occasionally, a hammertoe is inherited or caused by arthritis in the toe joint.
Signs and symptoms of hammertoe and mallet toe may include a hammer-like or claw-like appearance of a toe. In mallet toe, a deformity at the end of the toe, giving the toe a mallet-like appearance.
Pain and difficulty moving the toe. Corns and calluses resulting from the toe rubbing against the inside of your footwear. Both hammertoe and mallet toe can cause pain with walking and other foot
Although hammertoes are readily apparent, to arrive at a diagnosis the foot and ankle surgeon will obtain a thorough history of your symptoms and examine your foot. During the physical examination,
the doctor may attempt to reproduce your symptoms by manipulating your foot and will study the contractures of the toes. In addition, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the
degree of the deformities and assess any changes that may have occurred.
Non Surgical Treatment
Orthotics are shoe inserts that hammertoes
can help correct mechanical foot-motion
problems to correct pressure on your toe or toes and reduce pain. Changing shoes. You should seek out shoes that conform to the shape of your feet as much as possible and provide plenty of room in
the toe box, ensuring that your toes are not pinched or squeezed. You should make sure that, while standing, there is a half inch of space for your longest toe at the end of each shoe. Make sure the
ball of your foot fits comfortably in the widest part of the shoe. Feet normally swell during the course of the day, so shop for shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are at their largest.
Don't be vain about your shoe size, sizes vary by brand, so concentrate on making certain your shoes are comfortable. Remember that your two feet are very likely to be different sizes and fit your
shoe size to the larger foot. Low-heel shoes. High heels shift all your body weight onto your toes, tremendously increasing the pressure on them and the joints associated with them. Instead, wear
shoes with low (less than two inches) or flat heels that fit your foot comfortably.
Extreme occurrences of hammer toe may call for surgery. Your surgeon will decide which form of surgery will best suit your case. Often, the surgeon may have to cut or remove a tendon or ligament.
Depending on the severity of your condition, the bones on both sides of the joint afflicted may need to be fused together. The good news is you can probably have your surgery and be released to go
home in one day. You will probably experience some stiffness in your toe, but it might last for a short period, then your long-term pain will be eliminated.