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Claw and Hammer Toe


Ouch. An unusual bend to the foot’s four smaller toes may be as painful as it looks. Find out what the difference is between these two deformities and their most common cause.

Causes & Triggers

  • A high, natural arch
  • Footwear that causes pressure on the joints over time, including shoes and boots that are:
    • Too short
    • Tight fitting, high heeled or pointed
    • One-half to one size too small
  • Muscle imbalance in the toe
  • Nerve damage resulting from diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or injury

Signs & Symptoms

  • Difficulty finding shoes that fit
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Trouble with balance or walking
  • Unusual bend to the toes
    • Upward for the first joint; downward for the middle joints in hammer toe
    • Downward curl for middle and end of toe joint, upward for first joint in claw toe
  • Corns and calluses from footwear rubbing against toes

Tips & Treatment

  • Without treatment, claw toe can worsen or become permanent.
  • Surgery may be required.

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