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Hammer,Claw,and Mallet Toes

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Exams and Tests

Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and past health and do a physical exam to diagnose hammer, claw, and mallet toes. People rarely need tests, but your doctor may use an X-ray to assess the bone structure, especially if you are considering surgery.

Your doctor will ask questions about:

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  • Your symptoms, including when the problems started, what activities or shoes make them worse, and what other parts of the foot are painful. This includes asking about the shoes you wear at work and how much time you spend standing or walking every day.
  • The type of footwear you wear each day.
  • Any previous foot problems or treatment for foot problems you have had.
  • Other medical conditions that may be related. Such conditions include:
    • Joint diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis).
    • Brain, spinal cord, or nerve injury (such as diabetic neuropathy).
    • Shortened muscles (contractures).
    • Poor circulation of blood to the feet (peripheral arterial disease).

During the physical exam, your doctor will look at your foot:

  • While you stand, to diagnose the problem.
  • While you sit, to check whether the joint deformity is fixed or flexible.

If you are thinking about having surgery to correct your toe joint problem, you may need:

  • An X-ray, to help determine what type of surgery (if any) would be most helpful.
  • Blood flow testing (vascular testing), which may include Doppler ultrasound, if your condition suggests that blood flow to and from your foot is poor.
  • Nerve conduction testing, if your condition seems to involve problems with nerve function in your foot. If this is the case, you may need a doctor who specializes in the brain, spinal cord, or nerves (neurologist).

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 29, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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