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Clawtoe and Hammertoe Deformity

What are clawtoe and hammertoe deformities?

Clawtoe and hammertoe deformities arise when the toe becomes bent in the middle toe joint and resembles a hammer or a claw. The difference between clawtoes and hammertoes is based on deformity at the metatarsal-phalangeal joint, although this difference is mild, at times difficult to differentiate and as a result these terms are sometimes used interchangeably.

What causes clawtoes and hammertoes?

Clawtoes and hammertoes have multiple causes. They can be caused by wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow, muscle imbalances, nerve injuries, brain injuries, arthritis, hereditary conditions, and having a long second toe

What are the symptoms of clawtoes and hammertoes?

Patients with claw and hammertoes often complain of toes that rub painfully against a shoe, developing calluses or corns on the toe, and irritated skin.

How clawtoes and hammertoes diagnosed?

Clawtoe and hammertoe deformities are diagnosed by thorough history and physical examination.

How are clawtoes and hammertoes treated?


While the toes are still flexible, early treatment for clawtoe and hammertoe deformity includes strapping, padding, toe stretching and wearing shoes with a deep box as well as anti-inflammatory medications.

Operative treatment

Operative treatments are used when nonsurgical treatments are unsuccessful. Surgery includes tendon transfer if the toe joint is still flexible, or deformity correction by fusing the bent joint into a straight position. The toe is typically held straight by a pin that is removed 4 weeks after surgery.