Claw, Hammer & Mallet Toes

Published On: April 11, 2023

Curling your toes is a great way to get a grip on shoes or surfaces. However, a hammer, claw, or mallet toe may have formed if you find it challenging to uncurl your toes. This list of tools and bird parts all describe how the toe will bend, and stay bent, due to nerve damage, shortened tendons, or an imbalance of muscle strength. In general, the large toes are unaffected by these conditions, and it primarily appears in the smaller toes. Often the cause of these toes is the frequent wearing of improperly fitting shoes. When the shoe is too narrow, your large toe will push into your smaller toes, forcing them into a bent position. Over time, the tendons will shorten and some muscles with strengthen while opposing ones will weaken, forcing the toe into the hammer position. Other causes include genetics, neuromuscular conditions, diabetes, flat feet, and bunions.


A claw toe is bent at the second and third toe joints, causing the end of your toe to dig down into the sole of your shoe or the ground. Corns can develop over the top of the toe or under the ball of the foot.


Hammertoes are bent at the second, or middle, toe joint, creating a hammer-like curve to your toe.  Symptoms can include pain, redness or swelling, inability to straighten the toe, difficulty walking, and a corn or callus on the top of the toe’s middle joint or tip.


Mallet toes are bent at the third joint, causing the last section of your toe to point downwards. Corns, calluses and pain can develop along the toe, especially on the end.


All these tools and bird part ailments receive the same treatments. The options include; 

Visit your chiropodist today to discuss treatment options and to be treated for your hammer, claw, or mallet toes. 

    This page contains information from:

         Claw Toe – orthoinfo – Aaos. OrthoInfo. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2023, from–conditions/claw-toe

         Difference between Hammertoes vs. Claw Toe. Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry, LLC. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2023, from 

         Hammer Toe – Orthoinfo – Aaos. OrthoInfo. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2023, from–conditions/hammer-toe/#:~:text=A%20hammer%20toe%20is%20a,become%20fixed%20and%20require%20surgery.

         Hammertoe – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2023, from 

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