Advanced Foot and Ankle Center Blog

Posts for tag: Mallet Toes

By ADVANCED FOOT AND ANKLE CENTER
September 08, 2017
Category: Foot Problems
Tags: Claw Toes   Mallet Toes  

Understanding Claw and Mallet Toes

 

Think you may have mallet or claw toes? Mallet and claw toes form over years and are common in adults. Mallet and claw toes are among the most common toe problems. If you think you have mallet or claw toes, see a podiatrist right away. If you don't treat the problem right away, you are more likely to need surgery. Here's what you need to know about claw and mallet toes.

What Are Mallet and Claw Toes?

Mallet and claw toes are toes that are bent into an abnormal position. They may hurt or look odd, or both. These toe deformities usually occur in the small toes, not the big toes. Claw toe often affects the four small toes at the same time. The toes bend up at the joint where the foot and toes meet. This causes the toes to curl downward. Mallet toes often affect the second toes, but it may occur in the other toes too. Mallet toes bend down at the joint closest to the tip of the toes. 

What Causes These Conditions?

Tight footwear is the most common cause of mallet and claw toes. Wearing tight footwear can cause the muscles of the toes to get out of balance. Less often, these conditions are linked with other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, stroke, or an injury to the ankle or foot. Women are affected more often than men because they are more likely to wear narrow shoes or high heels.

How Are They Diagnosed?

Your podiatrist will take a detailed medical history and ask about your daily activities and footwear. A physical examination comes next, in which the level of deformity and scope of pain will be assessed. Diagnosis of these claw and mallet toes is usually obvious from the physical exam. To further evaluate the joints and bones of your feet and confirm a diagnosis, your podiatrist may order x-rays or other imaging tests.

How Are They Treated?

Buying shoes with more room in the toes, filing down calluses and corns, and padding the toes most often relieve the pain. If you have pain, your doctor may put a splint or pad on the toe. A custom orthotic device may be placed in your shoe to help control the muscle/tendon imbalance and alleviate your pain. This keeps the toe from rubbing on the top of the shoe. Corticosteroid injections are sometimes used to ease pain and inflammation. If these steps don’t work, you may need surgery to straighten the toes.

Podiatric medicine a branch of science that is devoted to the study, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions of the ankle, foot, and lower extremity. Podiatrists diagnose and treat various foot problems, including claw and mallet toes. They offer a variety of treatments for claw and mallet toes. If you think you may have claw or mallet toes, a podiatrist in your area can help you achieve real relief.

What is a Hammertoe?

Hammertoes are very common foot problems.  Hammertoe is a term used to describe a deformity that is occurring in one of the smaller toes of the foot from the 2nd to the 5th toe (pinky toe).  There term may be divided into mallet toe, claw toe, or hammertoe.  Each one of these divisions describes exactly which joint in the toe is affected.   With a mallet toe the tip of the toe is curved down.  With a claw toe all three of the joints in the toes are affected.  A hammertoe affects primarily the middle joint in the toe.

How did I get Hammertoes?

There are multiple muscles that help stabilize each of the toes and allow them to lie flat on the ground when your walking.  If there is an imbalance in the pull of one of theses muscles a hammertoe may form.  Other causes of hammertoes includes wearing shoes that are too tight, past injury or fracture to the toe, and arthritis.

Are Hammertoes bad?

Hammertoes can lead to foot pain and discomfort especially in closed toed shoe gear.  Redness and swelling in the areas where the toes are rubbing in the shoes typically occur first followed by painful corns or calluses in the areas where this rubbing is occurring.  Some people complaint of stiff joints and pain even when walking without shoes.

How are hammertoes treated?

Treatment options depend on which type of hammertoe deformity you are experiencing.  If the toes are still flexible making shoe gear modifications such as wearing wider shoes or deeper toe box shoes can accommodate the hammertoes and prevent any further pain.  Custom orthotics are also an important treatment option to help improve some of the improper biomechanical pull of the tendons and muscles acting on the toes.  If all conservative treatments have failed surgical correction of the hammertoes may be performed.  The procedure is typically performed as an outpatient at a local surgery center which allows you to rest and recuperate in the comfort of your home.  The procedures can be very complex to straighten the toes such as changing the pull of tendons in your toes, lengthening the tendons or removing small pieces of bone in the toes.

If you are suffering from painful hammertoes, corns associated with them or concerned with the look of your toes consult with one of the surgically trained Podiatrists at Advanced Foot and Ankle Center in McKinney and Prosper, Texas.  Dr. Silvers, Dr. Lloyd, and Dr. Witt are each well trained in treating conservatively and surgically painful hammertoes.  Call 972-542-2155 for an appointment today.