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Misshapen Toes and What You Should Do About Them

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There are many foot conditions that lead to the malformation of toes. Mallet toe, hammer toe, claw toe, arthritis, and bunions are just a few of the medical maladies that can afflict your toes and give them a misshapen appearance.

But what can you do about these conditions? After all, having crooked or overlapping toes is about more than simply aesthetics - it can be painful as well. Explore mallet, hammer, and claw toe conditions in further detail and learn when you should talk to a podiatrist about your condition.

Mallet Toe

Mallet toe is a common foot condition that can be easily treated with special footwear or minor surgery, depending on how severe the condition is. Mallet toe is caused when the outer joints in the toe stiffen or swell, causing toes to pull downward or to the side. The joints are affected by the muscle and ligament strength and support surrounding affected toes.

Mallet toe, like other toe conditions, can be made worse by wearing tight or close-fitting footwear, wearing shoes that are too high and place strain on the balls of the feet, or failing to treat the condition when it first appears. Not all mallet toe afflictions are painful, but most are, as toes become harder to move independently and begin crowding one another as the misalignment worsens.

Hammer Toe

Hammer toe is nearly identical to mallet toe, only the inner joints are affected in the foot rather than the outer joints. The condition is often painful and causes the toe to point downward as the joint is stiffened by muscles and ligaments that are also stiff, too short, or are weakened.

Hammer toe is often progressive and, with time, will cause the affected toe tips to curl downward and touch the ground when walking. As joints continue to be affected, toes can begin to stiffen entirely, only being pliable via force. Without treatment, hammer toe can lead to very painful walking, imbalance, and permanent foot or toe deformity.

Claw Toe

Caw toe is named such due to the way the condition affects a toe's shape and is very painful and severe. With claw toe, the joint that connects the feet to the toes is affected, causing the four smaller toes (after the big toe) to curl downward in a 'C' or claw shape.

What makes claw toe so debilitating is that the condition affects not just the first knuckle in the toe, but the second as well, causing the whole toe to become immobilized with time even as it curls downward.

The only way to determine the severity and treatment protocol for either mallet, hammer, or claw toe is to visit your podiatrist for X-rays and a consultation.

Regardless of whether you have hammer, mallet, or claw toe, your potentially painful foot condition will not get better on its own. Your best options for finding relief from your symptoms are surgery or wearing looser footwear, toe correction pads, or supports. Without treatment, over time your toes can become so crooked and misshapen that you find walking and standing difficult.

Don't ignore any foot pain or changes in your toes, even if your condition doesn't appear to be serious. The best way to treat a mallet, hammer, or claw toe is by visiting your podiatrist for professional intervention. Your podiatrist will manipulate movement in each of your toes to see which joints are affected before coming up with a treatment plan for you.

Visit our helpful, professional staff at Greenville Podiatry Associates PA for all your foot care needs. Schedule an appointment with one of our helpful representatives today.