Common Diagnoses:
Hammer Toes

Overview

A hammertoe has an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. Mallet toe affects the joint nearest the toenail. Hammertoe usually occurs in your second, third and fourth toes. Hammertoe is a foot deformities that occurs due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. The type of shoes you wear, foot structure, trauma and certain disease processes can contribute to the development of this deformity.

Symptoms

Hammertoe and mallet toe feature an abnormal bend in the joints of one or more of your toes. Moving the affected toe may be difficult or painful. Corns and calluses can result from the toe rubbing against the inside of your shoes.

Diagnosis

Your doctor can diagnose hammertoe or mallet toe by examining your foot. Your doctor might order X-rays to further evaluate the bones and joints of your feet and toes.

Treatment

If your toe is still flexible, your doctor might recommend that you change to roomier, more comfortable footwear and that you wear shoe inserts (orthotics) or pads. Inserts or pads can reposition your toe and relieve pressure and pain.

In addition, your doctor might suggest exercises — such as picking up marbles or crumpling a towel with your toes — to stretch and strengthen your toe muscles.

If conservative treatments don’t help, your doctor might recommend surgery to release the tendon that’s preventing your toe from lying flat. In some cases, the surgeon also might remove a piece of bone to straighten your toe.