What are hammer, claw, and mallet toes?
claw, and mallet toes are toe joint deformities.
- A hammer toe occurs when a toe (usually the
second toe) bends down toward the floor at the middle toe joint. This causes
the middle joint to rise up.
- Claw toe often affects all toes
(except the big toe) at the same time, causing them to bend downward at the
middle joints and at the joints nearest the tip, so that the toes curl down
toward the floor. The toes bend up at the joints where the toes and the foot
- A mallet toe often affects the second toe, but it may affect
the other toes as well. The toe bends down at the joint closest to the tip.
See pictures of
hammer, claw, and mallet toes .
What are the risks of hammer, claw, and mallet toes?
Hammer, claw, and mallet toes can cause discomfort and pain and may make
it difficult to walk. Shoes may rub on your toes, causing pain, blisters,
calluses or corns, or sores. Sores can become infected
and lead to
osteomyelitis, especially if you have
peripheral arterial disease. If you have one of these
conditions and sores develop, contact your doctor.
also have an odd shape, which is embarrassing for some people
When is surgery an option?
If your hammer, claw,
or mallet toe gets worse, or if nonsurgical treatment does not help your pain
or discomfort, you may think about surgery. Generally, surgery is used only if
your symptoms do not improve with nonsurgical treatment. Surgery may not
completely return your toes to their normal positions, and toe joint problems
may come back after the surgery.
Surgery may not be an option if
your toe deformity is caused by a problem with your
nervous system or if you have a condition that affects
your blood vessels.
What types of surgery are available?
The type of
surgery you choose depends on how severe your condition is and whether the toe
fixed or flexible. Typical surgical options include:
- Phalangeal head resection (arthroplasty), in which the surgeon removes part of the toe
Joint fusion (arthrodesis), in which the surgeon
removes part of the joint, letting the toe bones grow together
- Cutting supporting tissue or moving
tendons in the toe joint.
This can relax the tension on the
joint and allow the toe to straighten out.
If you need more information, see the topic
Hammer, Claw, and Mallet Toes.