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Hammertoes, Claw Toes, and Mallet Toes in Media: Can You Spot the Difference?

Before you begin treating painful hammertoes at home, you may want to consider if your foot ailment could be something else. There are a number of related conditions, but the most likely are claw toes and mallet toes. 

Hammer, claw, and mallet toes occur when the tendons and muscles that control your toes are unable to flex them, causing the toes to bend into an unnatural position. All of these conditions share symptoms of pain and toe deformity, but each has its own specific description:

  • Hammertoes. The end of a hammertoe is bent downward toward the floor, causing the middle toe joint to curl and rise up. It most commonly occurs in the second toe as a result of shoes that are too narrow, squeezing the foot into a pointed shape. The middle toe has nowhere to go to escape the pressure, and starts to shift upwards to make room for the other toes. People with hammertoes may also have bunions because the forced point of the foot will press the big toe inward, as well.
  • Mallet toes. This condition occurs much the same way as a hammertoe, but the difference is that the toe becomes bent at the second toe joint (closest to the tip of the toe). This may cause fractures in the smallest toe bone, or cause the top of the toe to rub against your foot, causing calluses or abrasions.
  • Claw toe. In a claw toe, the toe bends up at the first joint and then bends down at both middle joints, causing the toe to “bunch up” and point toward the floor. This may occur in only one toe, but usually happens in the four smaller toes at the same time. Claw toes are commonly caused by a muscle imbalance that causes the ligaments in the toes to become unnaturally tight, pulling the toe into the foot.

The good news is that these conditions are easily treatable—as long as the condition is discovered early. If you are suffering toe and foot pain in Phoenixville, the podiatrists at HealthMark Foot & Ankle Associates can help you treat your hammertoe deformity before you need surgery. Call us today at 610-565-3668 in Media or 610-933-8644 in Phoenixville to set up your first consultation.

Want more information on taking care of your feet? Click the link on this page and we’ll send you a FREE copy of our book, The Foot is Not an Island: Recognizing Vitamin D Deficiency & How to Correct It.