Hammertoe and mallet toe
Hammertoe and mallet toe
Hammertoe and mallet toe are two foot deformities that occur most often in women who wear high heels or shoes with a narrow toe box. These types of footwear may force your toes against the front of the shoe, causing an unnatural bending.
A hammertoe has an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. Mallet toe affects the joint nearest the toenail. Hammertoe and mallet toe are most likely to occur in the toe next to your big toe.
Relieving the pain and pressure of hammertoe and mallet toe may involve changing your footwear and wearing shoe inserts. If you have a more severe case of hammertoe or mallet toe, you may need surgery to experience relief.
A hammertoe is curled due to a bend in the middle joint of the toe. ...
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.
When to see a doctor
Hammertoe and mallet toe have been linked to:
Factors that may increase you risk of hammertoe and mallet toe include:
At first, a hammertoe or mallet toe may maintain its flexibility and lie flat when you're not wearing crowded footwear. But eventually, the tendons of the toe may contract and tighten, causing your toe to become permanently stiff. Your shoes can rub against the raised portion of the toe or toes, causing painful corns or calluses.
Preparing for your appointment
If you're having problems with your feet, you're likely to start off by seeing your primary care doctor. In some cases, however, your primary care doctor may refer you to a foot specialist (podiatrist).
What you can do
Also, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment if you're unclear about what your doctor is telling you.
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
Your doctor can diagnose hammertoe or mallet toe by examining your foot. Your doctor may also order X-rays to further evaluate the bones and joints of your feet and toes.
Treatments and drugs
If your toe is still flexible, your doctor may recommend that you change to roomier and more comfortable footwear and that you wear shoe inserts (orthotics) or pads. Wearing inserts or pads can reposition your toe and relieve pressure and pain.
In addition, your doctor may suggest exercises to stretch and strengthen your toe muscles. These may include picking up marbles or a thin towel off the floor with your toes.
If conservative treatments don't help, your doctor may recommend surgery to release the tendon that's preventing your toe from lying flat. In some cases, your doctor might also remove some pieces of bone to straighten your toe.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Wearing proper footwear may ease your foot pain. Low-heeled shoes with a deep toe box and flexible material covering the toes may help. Make sure there's a half-inch of space between your longest toe and the inside tip of your shoe. Allowing adequate space for your toes will help relieve pressure and pain.
Avoid over-the-counter corn-removal products, many of which contain acid that can cause severe skin irritation. It's also risky to try shaving or cutting an unsightly corn off your toe. Foot wounds can easily get infected, and foot infections are often difficult to treat, especially if you have diabetes or poor circulation.
You can avoid many foot, heel and ankle problems with shoes that fit properly. Here's what to look for when buying shoes:
These additional tips may help you buy the right shoes:
Last Updated: 2013-03-15
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