Hammer, Claw, and Mallet Toes - Topic Overview
How are hammer, claw, and mallet toes diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask questions
about your symptoms and past health and do a physical exam. Your doctor will want to know:
- When the problems
started, what activities or shoes make them worse, and if other parts of the
foot are painful.
- What kind of shoes you wear and how
much time you spend standing or walking every day.
- Any previous foot problems you
- Any medical conditions you have that could be related, such as arthritis, diabetes, or poor circulation.
During the physical exam, your doctor will look at your
foot to see if the toe joint is fixed or flexible. A joint that has some movement can sometimes be straightened without surgery. A fixed joint often requires surgery.
If you are thinking about having surgery to correct your
problem, you may need:
X-ray to help the doctor decide what type of surgery would be most helpful.
- Blood flow testing, which
may include Doppler ultrasound, if your foot seems to have poor blood flow.
- Nerve testing if your doctor thinks you have nerve problems
in your foot. If this is the case, you may need to see a neurologist, a doctor who specializes in brain, spine, and nerve problems.
How are they treated?
You can probably treat your toe joint problem at
home. If you start right away, you may be able to avoid surgery.
- Change your footwear. Choose shoes with roomy toe boxes, low heels, and good arch supports. Sandals or athletic shoes that don't rub on your toe may be a good option. You could also try custom-made shoes or shoes made for people who have foot problems.
- Use products that cushion the toe
or hold the foot in a more comfortable position, such as
moleskin, toe tubes, arch supports, or other
shoe inserts (orthotics). These are better for
treating a flexible toe, but they can also provide some relief for a
- Care for any
calluses or corns on your feet.
Moleskin and other over-the-counter treatments may help
relieve pain. Never cut corns or calluses, because this can lead to
- Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Check with your doctor before
taking these medicines. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.