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Martin Foot & Ankle

The Difference Between Mallet, Claw, and Hammertoes

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You can manipulate a bendy straw in all different ways – how long it takes for your drink to reach your mouth depends on the bend. Well, that’s exactly how you can tell if your abnormally bent toe is a mallet, claw, or hammertoe: It all depends on the bend!

Bent Toe

Hammertoes: with this condition, your toe (typically the second, although sometimes the third and fourth) bends at the middle joint, forcing the joint upward and the end of the toe downward.

Mallet Toes: Again, most often affecting the second, but sometimes others as well, a mallet toe’s downward bend occurs in the joint closest to the tip of the toe.

Claw Toes: Often affecting the four smallest twos at once, claw toes bend up where their joints meet the foot, then down at the middle joint, as well as the joint at the tip, causing the toes to curl toward the floor.

Regardless of which type of abnormally bent toe you have, each is treated similarly – with padding, stretches, medication, splints, and a switch to more roomy shoes. Stop by The Right Shoe to find the perfect, stylish yet comfy pair for you!

While mallet, claw, and hammertoes obviously differ, there is one other characteristic they have in common beyond treatment. Each of these conditions is progressive, meaning they will only get worse over time. The conservative measures mentioned above will hopefully keep your toes flexible and functioning without pain, but if symptoms continue and keep you from comfortably enjoying activities you love, surgery may need to be considered. These procedures, however, are typically minor and done on an outpatient basis.

If your toes are bent or curled, call us for help to set things straight! You can find out more or make an appointment by dialing (717) 757-3537 to reach any of our PA offices. 

Dr. Maria Ann Kasper
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2 Comments:
Regardless of the previous surgery, toes typically have a slight curling towards the ground. If this has been progressive and is now causing significant pain and difficulty with shoe gear it absolutely needs to be evaluated by one of our physician.
Posted by Dr. Jeffrey Dunkerley on October 23, 2017 at 03:35 PM
Hi, I had 2 'neuromas' removed from the third toe about 4 years ago. My toe is pretty much numb and began to curve downward after surgery. I didn't pay much attention to the curving because I thought it was a natural occurrence after removal of the neuromas. My third toe has curved downward 'alot' at the joint closest to the tip of my toe. It has been very red and swollen. cannot wear any shoe on that foot,accept my thongs but it's cold outside! it's actually red and hurts to touch all the way up to the scar where surgeon cut to remove the 2 'neuromas'. My husband says not to worry and there is nothing that can be done but toe and scar area has been so very red sore and curved down for 3 weeks!I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining.. but I'm beginning to get very worried. Please, any advice would be appreciated. Do you think it will heal on it's own??
Posted by susan on October 20, 2017 at 01:15 PM

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