Hammer, mallet, and claw toes are types of deformed toes. The toes are bent into a weird position and may cause pain. These conditions usually affect the smaller toes, not on the big toe.

A hammertoe is when the toe bends downward at the middle toe joint. This causes the middle toe joint to rise and misalign from the other toe joints. It usually affects the second toe and occurs with bunions.

Claw toe usually affects the four smaller toes at the same time. The toes bend up at the joint where the toes connect to the foot, downward at the middle joints and at the joints near the tip of the toes. The toes curl down toward the floor looking like a claw.

A mallet toe bends downward nearest the tip of the toe. It may affect all the small toes, but it usually affects the second toe.

These deformities of the toes are usually a result of wearing tight shoes. Tight shoes force the toes to be bent and stay in that position for long periods of time. This causes the toe muscles to be out of balance. The muscles tighten and the tendons contract and shorten. Over time, the toes take the shape of the shoe, making it hard for the toes to straighten.

These conditions are common in adults and form over the years. It usually affects women because of the style of the shoes – narrow roes and high heels. Conditions, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, or an injury to the foot or ankle increase the risk of toe deformities.

If you have hammer, mallet, or claw toes, or notice that your toes feel pain and look odd, talk to a foot specialist to treat the condition right away. It would be best to treat these conditions before they become severe to avoid the need for surgery. Contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our podiatrists!