Hammer Toe, Claw Toe and Mallet Toe deformities are extremely common causes of second, third and fourth toe pain in that order. In most cases the condition can be linked to flat foot, poor biomechanics and poor choice in foot wear.
This guide will help you understand how the claw, hammer and mallet toe deformities develop, what kinds of problems these conditions may cause and the treatment options that are available.
The base of the toe starts at what is called the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ) for each toe and then each toe is individually made up of 3 bones called the phalanges (the proximal, intermediate and distal phalange- from the closest to furthest). The MTPJs are the ball of the foot, the inter-phalangeal joints (PIPJs and DIPJs) make up the digits themselves; each of these joints are held together by the joint capsule. Muscles insert at the far aspect of the toes from the top and bottom and can make the toes flex and extend when the muscles are put into action.
In the Hammer toe, Claw Toe and Mallet Toe deformities there is an uneven balance between the muscles at the top of the foot and the bottom of the foot due to previous injuries like flat foot, the shoes you have been wearing and likely due to improper walking as a results to other injuries problems over the years.
The difference between a hammer toe, claw toe and mallet toe is simply which of the joints are bent, but to you it likely does not matter because the treatments are the same for all of these problems.
The number one cause of hammer toes is the development of a flat foot and the second biggest cause is improper footwear. These are both preventable and treatable conditions as long as the hammer toe is still bendable. If the hammer toe is rigid, then a surgical consult with your podiatrist may be recommended.
1) Flat foot – Flat feet are caused by many factors including injury, obesity and improper footwear, follow our guide on how to prevent and treat flat feet. A flat foot alters the direction and pull of the muscles and tendons leading
2) Improper footwear- Tight shoes and high heels can compress the second toe and cause it to bunch up and over time there is increased slack in the tendons and muscles that connect to the toes which do not stretch back to normal after the shoe is removed without some serious effort.