Hammer toe can be so painful that it keeps you from doing the activities you love. At Complete Foot & Ankle in Ridgewood and Newark, New Jersey, podiatrists Jacob Reinkraut, DPM, FACFAS, Michelle Suh, ABPM; and Danny Gomez, DPM, FACFAS, can treat your hammer toe and get you back on your feet again. If you’re looking for relief from hammer toe, call Complete Foot & Ankle or book an appointment online today.

Hammer Toe Q & A

What is hammer toe?

Hammer toe and mallet toe both describe foot deformities that cause your toes to bend abnormally. This condition may occur in one or more of your toes at once, but they most frequently affect your second, third, or fourth toes.

You can usually tell if you have hammer toe or mallet toe if you notice an abnormal bend in any of your toes. For example, hammer toes curl downward instead of extending straight like normal toes. Other signs and symptoms of hammer toe include:

  • Discomfort or difficulty walking
  • Pain when stretching or moving the surrounding toes
  • Corns or calluses
  • Difficulty wiggling your toes or stretching your foot
  • Toes that look like claws

What’s the difference between a hammer toe and mallet toe?

Hammer toe and mallet toe refer to the same type of foot deformity, but they occur in different joints of your toe. A hammer toe involves an abnormal bend in the middle joint of your toe. A mallet toe affects the joint closest to your toenail.

The podiatrists at Complete Foot & Ankle treat both hammer toe and mallet toe.

What causes hammer toe?

Sometimes, hammer toes and mallet toes are present at birth. Other common causes of hammer toe include:

  • Arthritis
  • Wearing poorly-fitting footwear
  • Tight tendons or ligaments in your foot
  • A traumatic toe injury
  • An unusually high arch in your foot
  • Pressure from a bunion

Who gets hammer toes?

Anyone can get hammer toe or mallet toe.

In particular, wearing shoes that are too small can significantly increase your chances of getting hammer toe by forcing your toe joints into unnatural positions. Other risk factors that make you more likely to develop hammer toe include:

  • Family history of hammer toe
  • Having calluses, corns, or bunions
  • Frequently wearing tight or pointy-toed shoes

How does a foot doctor treat hammer toes?

Dr. Reinkraut, Dr. Suh, can diagnose your hammer toe or mallet toe in a physical exam. For mild to moderate cases, they may recommend simple treatments such as:

  • Better-fitting footwear
  • Foot stretches
  • Insoles or toe pads for your shoes

If your case is severely disabling, the doctors may suggest surgery to restore movement to your toes.

If you think you have hammer toe or mallet toe, call Complete Foot & Ankle or book an appointment online today.