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Claw toes, mallet and hammer. What are, causes and treatments of these deformities of the toes

The claw, mallet or hammer toes are a deformities that occur in the toes (except in the hallux or big toe). These 4 remaining fingers are made up of 3 bones (as opposed to the two bones that make up the big toe) and by several Joints (which are the union of two bones).


When the joints bend or flex more than usual (from continued pressure on the toes or the ball of the foot), this is when these deformities form and develop.



Next, we analyze in depth each one of them, as well as the causes, symptom y Treatments.


TYPES OF DEFORMITIES: Claw, Mallet, and Hammer Toes


There are different types of deformities. depending on the joint that is affected. We mainly differentiate these three:



The flexed joint is closest to the fingertip.


The flexed joint is the medium.


Claw Finger

In this type there is hyperextension of the metatarsophalangeal joint and proximal and distal interphalangeal joint flexion.



on the fingers in claw and on the fingers hammer you have to differentiate between two types:


  • Flexible. It is that deformity in which when manipulating the finger, when this pathology begins to appear, we can achieve your extension/flexion.
  • Rigid. It is the one in which we cannot correct the deformity by extending the finger.


These deformities can coexist, such that a patient can have claw, mallet, and hammer toes at the same time.





SYMPTOMS OF Claw, Mallet, and Hammer Toes


El main symptom of these three types are your deformation, but it is possible that the patient does not perceive the pathology since the fingers drift slowly and it is not reflected aesthetically until some time has passed. There are other signs that can alert us that we suffer from them:


  • Hardness y Calluses on the back or at the base of the finger.
  • Pulpejo of the affected fingers produced by the excessive friction with footwear.
  • Inflammation of the interphalangeal joints.
  • Pain in the practice of sport.
  • Pain in the toe area, which bothers when performing daily activities such as walking uphill or downhill.



CAUSE OF Claw, Mallet and Hammer Fingers



One of the causes of these deformities, although not the most common, is its congenital origin. In the event of this circumstance, can be diagnosed early. The podiatrist will advise the patient on the shoes should use and the most appropriate treatments to solve the problem.



Most of the patients who come to our queries and suffer these deformations use inappropriate footwear that compress the fingers, like shoes heel, very narrow or very tight toe, which cause a imbalance in tendons and muscles of the foot favoring the formation of this deformity.


This type of inadequate footwear directly influences the development and evolution of this pathology




Another cause that can cause claw toes derives from muscle or joint problems produced by Juanetes, cavus feet, flat feet, valgus feet o injuries that have affected the shape of the bone. These types of feet are the most likely to have this problem.


HOW ARE THEY DIAGNOSED Claw, Mallet and Hammer fingers?


The podiatrist in consultation, through a physical exploration, you will be able to affirm this diagnostic suspicion of claw, mallet or hammer toe by observe the flexion of the finger.


It is recommended to perform an X-ray to know in detail the degree of involvement of the joint



On the other hand, it is also advisable to do a complete biomechanical study of gait and footfall. In this way, in motion, the podiatrist will observe the deformity of the finger and more accurately determine the degree of the problem.


When there is an unstable gait, the toes tend to deform in order to "grab" the ground to improve foot stability.




Regarding the Treatments, there are different types depending on the degree of deformity and stiffness (It is not the same to treat a “flexible” deformity than a “rigid” deformity). Next, we list the most used:



El use of custom templates helps stabilize the foot and prevent toe deformity. Sometimes, these pathologies derive from an incorrect way of walking of a person.



El stretching of the extensor and flexor muscles It is recommended to avoid stiffening of the joints.


Performing the exercises indicated by the podiatrist will be essential to prevent the problem from getting worse




El use of silicone orthosis as help to correct, palliate and stop the progression of the deformity. This treatment can be decisive in stages of life such as childhood and adolescence, since the deformity will be flexible and signs and symptoms may be reduced.



It is recommended to use footwear adequate size, wide last and comfortable to prevent the fingers from being squeezed inside. In addition, it is recommended avoid high heels and narrow toe, as far as possible.



The above treatments are conservatives, used when the deformity is in a “flexible” degree. The Surgical treatment it will occur in more severe and “rigid” cases, when no improvement is obtained in a conservative manner.


Surgery definitively ends these deformities since it corrects the underlying problem. The podiatrist will decide when it is necessary, according to each case.


In general, in this type of surgery the patient is operated and does not require hospital admission, thus being able to go home the day of surgery. You will be able to support your foot from the day of surgery using a special post-surgical footwear that will be removed around 3 weeks.


The patient will get a full recovery around a month after surgery and you can resume your sport activity around a month and a half and two months after surgery.



Do you have or do you think you have claw/mallet or hammer toes? At Podoactiva we can help you. Consult your nearest Podoactiva clinic HERE or contact us at 974 231 280 or Traves de



Natalia Garcia and Maria Herreros

Podoactiva podiatrists

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  • Eglis Ruiz
    Posted at 01:09 a.m., October 15 Reply

    it gives me great satisfaction
    It gives me great satisfaction to see innovations in the field of podiatry. I have a degree in podiatry graduated in Cuba. Currently living in Peru and seeing advances in podiatry worldwide and I am pleased to see this.

  • Ivonne
    Posted at 16:11 a.m., January 23 Reply

    Good day, I'm interested in one
    Good day, I am interested in a consultation and cost, to know where they are located

    • partners
      Posted at 16:24 a.m., January 23 Reply

      Good afternoon Yvonne. We are

      Good afternoon Yvonne. We are present in various centers and units. To locate your nearest clinic and contact information (address, email, telephone…) you can do so at the following link, where you will find a map with all the clinics:  To know the exact price of the services (biomechanical study, personalized insoles...) ask directly with the center, since depending on the clinics, agreements and other agreements, the price may vary. All the best.

  • Conchi
    Posted at 12:51 p.m., June 26 Reply

    4 months ago I had an operation
    4 months ago I had surgery on a flat foot, and I'm not doing well, I limp, because when I walk my toes shrink and it hurts a little where the foot bends, what can I do, it will go away,,,, no I'm doing rehabilitation because there is no virus thanks

    • partners
      Posted at 11:51 p.m., June 29 Reply

      Good morning, Conch. Is

      Good morning, Conch. It is important that you follow your surgeon's instructions. From here we cannot give you an adequate diagnosis, since it would be necessary for one of our professionals to see you in consultation. If you wish, in the link below there is a map where you can find your nearest Podoactiva clinic, as well as all the contact information for each of them: A greeting.


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