Toe deformities are unsightly and painful, but fortunately they are treatable. When you suffer from hammertoes, claw toes, or mallet toes, you need to understand what is happening, where the problem came from, and what can be done about it.

Toe Deformities

There are three main forms of toe deformity that are all closely related:

  • Hammertoes – A hammertoe bends up at the middle toe joint and points to the floor. This condition is typically found in the second toe.
  • Mallet Toes – A mallet toe bends like a hammertoe, except it is the joint closest to the tip of the toe that bends. Also similar to hammertoe, this is most likely to affect the second toe.
  • Claw Toes – This condition may affect all four smaller toes and is marked by an upwards bend at the joint where the foot and toes meet and a downward bend in both the middle and top joints of the toes.


The symptoms for these related conditions are quite similar. The obvious symptom is that your toes are not straight, as they should be. You will probably experience pain and discomfort when walking with any of these toe deformities. There is an increased likelihood of the development of corns and calluses due to your toes rubbing against your shoes, which can be especially problematic for those who are living with diabetes and have to tend carefully to their feet.


The most common cause of these conditions is poor-fitting footwear, especially shoes that are too tight. High heels, which have a propensity to squeeze the toes together and place excess pressure upon them, are a particular culprit for causing any of these toe deformities. In addition to footwear, diseases that affect the nerves and muscles in your feet, like arthritis and strokes, and physical injury to the foot are also potential causes.

Diagnosis and Treatment

We will evaluate your feet, which may entail having x-rays taken of the impacted foot. After Lawrence Kales, DPM has assessed the situation, he will develop a treatment plan that begins with conservative, nonsurgical methods.

If the condition has not been present for an extended period of time, conservative treatments can be highly effective in dealing with toe deformities. A change in footwear and use of orthotics or pads can reposition your toe and provide relief from pain and pressure. There are also exercises that can stretch and strengthen your toe muscles.

In the event that conservative treatment options do not provide sufficient pain relief and mobility, typically in cases where the toe deformity has existed for some time, surgery may be considered. This procedure will either release the tendon that prevents your toe from lying flat or remove pieces of bone so the toe can straighten out.


A main component to preventing hammertoes, claw toes, and mallet toes is your choice in footwear. In order to avoid these and many other foot problems, simply buy shoes that fit you properly. Choose shoes that have adequate room in the toe box. When you try a pair on, wiggle your toes. You can’t? Then you need to choose a different pair.

In order to ensure that you are getting the best possible fit, make sure you buy your shoes later in the day, like in the early evening. Your feet swell throughout the day, which means that a pair that fits comfortably in the morning will become too snug as the day progresses.

If you are aware that you are developing mallet toes, claw toes, or hammertoes, come in and see Lawrence Kales, DPM as soon as you can. If we can begin treatment early on, the odds are good that we can take care of the condition without the use of surgery. We have offices conveniently located in Spring Hill and Hudson, FL, and offer you world-class treatment for any foot and ankle problems. To schedule an appointment with Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle, call our Spring Hill office at (352) 683-5799, our Bayonet Point office at (727) 868-2128, or use our online form and find the pain relief you need today!