Hammer Toes & Mallet Toes

Mallet Toe Graphic

Lesser toe deformities are commonly associated with poor footwear and are seen more commonly in women than in men. A hammertoe or mallet toe is a deformity in which the toe is curled with the tip bent downward toward the floor.

A mallet toe occurs at the tip of the toe. A hammer toe occurs closer to the junction of the toe to the foot. Pain develops as the toe strikes the tip of the shoe and rubs against the top of the shoe. In some cases, a callous, an ulcer, or an infection may result from continued pressure in the area on top of the toe.  A macerated painful area may eventually develop that is exquisitely tender to touch. Treatment of lesser toe deformities is aimed at relieving pressure. Sometimes these areas can be padded with silicone or other types of pads or toe sleeves and the pain relieved. When padding is unsuccessful, utilization of shoes with a flat heel and a wide toe box that is sufficient to keep pressure off the toes is recommended. When pads and footwear changes are unsuccessful, surgical intervention may be considered. For hammertoes and mallet toes, resection of the bony prominence and straightening of the toe usually relieves discomfort. Often a small metal pin is placed in the toe in order to reinforce the correction and is removed later in the office. Recovery from hammer toe or mallet toe surgery usually entails wearing a postoperative shoe for a few weeks and then going into a regular shoe while continuing to weight bear flat-footed for approximately 6 weeks. At 6 weeks you can begin to walk more normally and less flat-footed. Impact activities such as jogging may take about 12 weeks to resume.