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 Hammer toe
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.
Wearing ill-fitting shoes is probably the main cause of hammer toe. As the toe bends, tendons add to the problem by contracting in such a way that the bending is reinforced to the point of becoming
permanent. In some cases, tendons that are abnormal to begin with may start the bending process.
A hammer toe may be painful, especially when irritated by a shoe. All four toe conditions may cause cramps in the toes, foot and leg due to the abnormal function of the tendons in the foot. If a
mallet toe has occurred, you are likely to suffer from a corn at the end of the toe. A hammertoe may cause a corn on the top of the toe. Infections and ulcers can also occur. In severe cases a mallet
toe, trigger toe, claw toe or a hammer toe may create a downward pressure on the foot, which can result in hard skin and corns on the soles of the feet.
A hammertoe is usually diagnosed with a physical inspection of your toe. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, may be ordered if you have had a bone, muscle, or ligament injury in your toe.
Non Surgical Treatment
Any forefoot problems that cause pain or discomfort should be given prompt attention. Ignoring the symptoms can aggravate the condition and lead to a breakdown of tissue, or possibly even infection.
Conservative treatment of mallet toes begins with accommodating the deformity. The goal is to relieve pressure, reduce friction, and transfer forces from the sensitive areas. Shoes with a high and
broad toe box (toe area) are recommended for people suffering from forefoot deformities such as mallet toes. This prevents further irritation in the toe area from developing. Other conservative
treatment includes forefoot supports such as gel toe caps, gel toe shields and toe crests. Gel forefoot supports provide immediate comfort and relief from common forefoot disorders without drying the
If these non-invasive treatments don?t work, or if the joint is rigid, a doctor?s only recourse may be to perform surgery. During the surgery, the doctor makes an incision and cuts the tendon to
release it or moves the tendon away from or around the joint. Sometimes part of the joint needs to be removed or the joint needs to be fused. Each surgery is different in terms of what is needed to
treat the hammertoe. Normally after any foot hammertoes
surgery, patients use a surgical shoe for four to six
weeks, but often the recovery from hammertoe surgery is more rapid than that. An unfortunate reality is that hammertoe can actually return even after surgery if a patient continues to make choices
that will aggravate the situation. Though doctors usually explain pretty clearly what needs to be done to avoid this.