Conditions We Treat

Hammertoe & Claw Toe

Get the care you need for hammertoe or claw toe.


Causes of Hammertoe & Claw Toe

Hammertoe and Claw toe problems can develop from genetics or from wear and tear of an active life. Usually, folks are born with the foot type that over time will predispose you to hammer and claw toes. People with flat feet, high-arched feet, or flexible feet are more prone to develop these problems. Other causes for toe problems are excessively long toes, tendon imbalance, injury, rheumatoid arthritis, and neuromuscular disease. Over time, the mechanics of your foot and certain types of shoes can increase the deformities. Women are more frequently affected because of shoe styles and the use of tight stockings.

Symptoms of Hammertoe & Claw Toe

Pain and corns usually develop over the toes due to the friction of the toe rubbing in the shoe. This rubbing in the shoe may also cause a red, inflamed sac of tissue called bursitis. Initially, the toe deformities are flexible and can be treated with simple measures. However, if left untreated, they can become rigid or stiff and cannot be straightened easily increasing pain. As time goes on, pain may develop deep in the toe joints and even the ball of the foot, limiting walking, exercise or even just standing comfortably.

Hammer toes and claw toes are sometimes caused or made worse by a bunion deformity involving the big toes. When the big toe start to angle over it may cause increased pressure on the second toe or the second toe may be pushed upwards out of the way.

Treatment For Hammertoe & Claw Toe

When hammer toes and claw toes cause mild pain the simplest solution to try is a wider, more accommodating shoe to decrease the rubbing and allow more room for the toes to move. This includes shorter heels, softer leather, wider toe boxes, and gym shoes. Use of a pumice stone to thin any corns and callouses is sometimes helpful. Cushions and various soft pads may provide relief from shoe pressure over the toes. Never use a “medicated” corn pad, since these contain a strong acid and can lead to a chemical burn or deep open sore that can become infected.

When the hammer toes and claw toes are painful, despite the conservative therapy options, or when you cannot find shoes that are comfortable enough, surgical correction should be discussed with your podiatrist. The longer surgery is delayed in a symptomatic foot, the greater the amount of deformity that develops – and the more complicated the surgery becomes. Patients who have their symptomatic hammer toes and claw toes corrected earlier tend to have greater satisfaction after the procedure.

Surgery For Hammertoe & Claw Toe

The goal of surgical correction is to restore normal alignment and function of the toe joint. Different procedures will be recommended for various conditions such as: If the toes are still flexible if the toes are rigid or if a claw toe is present. Sometimes a small pin is sometimes placed inside the bones to hold the toe in proper position while it heals. If a bone spur is the cause of the problem, this is removed through a small incision that can be closed with one stitch.

Recovery from Hammertoe & Claw Toe Surgery

Following surgery, the foot is bandaged and a post-operative shoe is worn for one week. Athletic shoes may be worn after the first week. Some exercise and prolonged standing are restricted for the first 6-8 weeks. You may steadily resume activities and wear more fashionable shoes once the healing is complete.

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