, Claw and Mallet Toe are similar conditions, all caused by deformity of the toe joints. They usually
develop slowly from wearing poor fitting shoes, but can also be due to muscle or nerve damage. Muscle imbalance causes the toes to bend into odd positions which can be extremely painful, limiting
walking and activity. They become more common with aging and affect approximately 10-15% of the population. Women are five times more likely to suffer from hammer, claw or mallet toe than men.
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.
Symptoms include sharp pain in the middle of the toe and difficulty straightening the toe. People with hammertoe may also develop blisters, which are fluid-filled pockets of skin, because the bent
toe is likely to rub against the inside of a shoe. This increased friction may also lead to calluses, which are areas of thickened skin, and corns, which are hard lumps that may form on or between
toes. Symptoms may be minor at first, but they can worsen over time.
Most health care professionals can diagnose hammertoe simply by examining your toes and feet. X-rays of the feet are not needed to diagnose hammertoe, but they may be useful to look for signs of some
types of arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) or other disorders that can cause hammertoe. If the deformed toe is very painful, your doctor may recommend that you have a fluid sample withdrawn
from the joint with a needle so the fluid can be checked for signs of infection or gout (arthritis from crystal deposits).
Non Surgical Treatment
Symptomatic treatment of hammertoes consists of such things as open toed shoes or hammertoe pads. There are over the counter corn removers for temporally reducing the painful callous often seen with
the hammertoe. These medications must be used with caution. They are a mild acid that burns the callous off. These medications should never be used for corns or callouses between the toes. Persons
with diabetes or bad circulation should never use these products.
If this fails or if treatment is not sought until the toes are permanently misaligned, then surgery may be required. Surgery may involve either cutting the tendon or fusing the joint. Congenital
conditions should hammertoes
be treated in early childhood with
manipulations and splinting.