Hammer toes or the arthritic deformities of claw toe, and mallet toe are caused by imbalances in the muscles and tendons of the toes or arthritic deformities and in some cases genetics. These toe conditions seem to be age affecting people in to 60+ age group more frequently. Women are also more susceptible than men. The three conditions display slightly different from each other dependent on which toe joint is affected. In toes 2 through 5 (the lesser toes) there is a proximal and a distal joint which could be affected determining the shape of the deformity. Some hammer toes may be rigid while others are flexible and can be reduced or corrected.
Besides the visual clues of hammer toe and related conditions, there may be points of contact with the toes and the upper part of the shoe causing corns and calluses. In the case of mallet and claw toe, the tip of the toe may receive excessive pressure developing corns and calluses. Some hammer toes may also overlap the adjacent toes. Depending on the depth of the shoe the toes may not have enough room leading to added pressures and squeezing of the toes.
- Shoes with deeper toe boxes to accommodate deformity
- Excavation of the insole of the shoe for dropped metatarsal heads or the end of the toe
- Shoe stretching or bubble patching over the affected toes
- Rocker soles or metatarsal bars to alter forces on the toes while in motion
- Full steel or carbon shanks or plates if deformity is rigid
- An accommodative custom made orthotic to evenly distribute pressure
- Toe crests, metatarsal pads, or splint to reduce flexible deformities
Other Treatments/ Modalities
- If conservative treatment is not successful then surgery may be required to fix the deformity.