Having toe deformities can be embarrassing. They are unsightly and painful, but the good news is that they are also treatable. If you have developed such issues like hammertoes, mallet toes, or claw toes, it is important to understand the situation, where it came from, and what you can do about it.

Toe Deformities

There are three closely-related forms of toe deformity:

  • Hammertoes – This condition is when your toe bends at the middle joint and points downward towards the floor. This typically can be found in your second toe.
  • Mallet Toes – This ailment is similar, except that it happens at the joint that is closest to the tip of your toe, instead of the middle one. Much like with hammertoe, this will frequently affect your second toe.
  • Claw Toes – A claw toe can affect any or all of the four smaller toes and can be identified by an upwards bend at the metatarsophalangeal joint (where the toe meets the foot) and a downwards bend at both the top and middle joints of your toes.

proper toe care


All three of these conditions have symptoms that are rather similar. The most apparent symptom is the fact that your toes do not lie straight, as they should. It is likely that you will experience discomfort and pain when you walk with any of these conditions. The chances of developing calluses and corns are increased on account of your toes rubbing within your shoes, especially on the inside top of the footwear. This can be especially worrisome for individuals who live with diabetes and need to be careful with their feet.


Believe it or not, the most common culprit behind these conditions is ill-fitting footwear, particularly shoes that are too small or tight. High heels, with their propensity for squeezing toes together and placing excessive pressure on the front of the foot, are a major offender for leading to these deformities. Besides footwear, other potential causes include physical injury, natural foot structure, and conditions that affect the muscles and nerves in your feet, like diabetes or suffering from a stroke.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Our office will evaluate your toes and feet, which might entail having x-rays taken. Once Dr. Joseph LaCava has assessed your particular situation, he will create a treatment plan that starts with the use of nonsurgical, conservative methods.

If your condition is early in the stages of development, conservative techniques can be highly effective in treating toe deformities. The use of orthotics or pads and a change in footwear can serve to reposition your toes and relieve the pain and pressure you may experience. You can also strengthen and stretch your toe muscles with a variety of exercises that we can recommend.

When conservative methods do not lead to sufficient pain relief or mobility, which is more likely for cases where the toe deformity is not in early stages and has existed for some time, we may recommend surgery. The surgical procedure will either be used to remove pieces of toe bone so the toe can straighten or release the tendon that is preventing your toe from lying flat.


If you want to prevent hammertoes, claw toes, and mallet toes from happening in the first place, start by looking at your choice in footwear. Many foot problems, including these ones, stem from ill-fitting shoes. Pick out a comfortable pair of shoes that have ample room in the toe box. As you try on shoes, wiggle your toes. If you can’t, then choose a different pair.

Since you want to ensure that you get the best possible fit from your footwear, buy your shoes in the early evening or at night. A pair that fits comfortably in the morning may become too snug as the day progresses since your feet swell throughout the day.

If you have hammertoes, claw toes, or mallet toes, make an appointment today with Central Arkansas Foot Care to get the help you need. We have offices conveniently located in Hot Springs, Arkadelphia, AR. Call our main office at (501) 321-4844 or use our online form to request an appointment.