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Hammer Toe

Hammer Toe

Hammer toe and mallet toe are foot problems that cause a bend in a toe or toes.

A hammer toe is curled due to a bend in the middle joint of the toe. Wearing shoes that don’t fit well can cause hammertoe and mallet toe. Other causes are foot injury and certain illnesses, such as diabetes. Often the cause isn’t known.

A hammertoe has an unusual bend in the middle joint of a toe. Mallet toe has a bend in the joint nearest the toenail. Hammertoe and mallet toe usually occur in the second, third and fourth toes.

Changing footwear, wearing shoe inserts, and using other devices might relieve the pain and pressure of hammertoe and mallet toe. Surgery can correct the condition and relieve the pressure if these treatments don’t work.


Hammer toe and mallet toe have an unusual bend in the joints of one or more of the toes. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain from wearing shoes.
  • Difficulty moving the affected toe.
  • Toe stiffness.
  • Redness and swelling.
  • Growth of corns and calluses from rubbing against shoes or against the ground.

Causes of Hammer Toe

Hammer toe and mallet toe have been linked to:

  • Certain shoes. High-heeled shoes or footwear that’s too tight in the toe can crowd toes so they can’t lie flat. In time, the toe might remain curled even when not in shoes.
  • Trauma. A toe that has been stubbed, jammed or broken might be more likely to develop hammertoe or mallet toe.
  • Imbalance of the toe muscles. If the muscles aren’t balanced, they can put pressure on the tendons and joints. This imbalance can lead to hammertoe and mallet toe over time.


To diagnose hammertoe or mallet toe, Orthopedic Surgeon at Shreya Hospital in Ghaziabad inspects the foot. X-rays can help show the bones and joints of the feet and toes. But they’re not always needed.

Treatment of Hammer Toe

For toes that can still unbend, roomier footwear and shoe inserts, called orthotics, or pads might give relief. Inserts, pads or taping can move the toe and ease pressure and pain.

Also, your health care provider might suggest exercises to stretch and strengthen toe muscles. These might include using toes to pick up marbles or scrunch a towel.

If these treatments don’t help, your care provider might suggest surgery. The surgery can release the tendon that’s keeping the toe curled up. Sometimes, the surgeon also removes a piece of bone to straighten the toe.