Hammer toe (claw toe or mallet toe)

Hammer toe, claw toe and mallet toe are due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments that normally hold your toe straight. A hammer toe has an abnormal bend in the middle joint of the toe, commonly affecting the second, third and fourth toes.

What is hammer toe?

Hammer toe causes your shoes to rub and sometimes affects the way you walk. It can cause stress on the ball of your foot, leading to pain in the rest of your foot.

The type of shoes you wear, foot structure, trauma and certain diseases can contribute to the development of these conditions. Relieving the pain and pressure of hammer toe may involve changing your footwear, wearing inserts to reposition your toes, exercises to correct muscle imbalances and taking medication. If you have a more severe case of hammer toe, you might need surgery to get relief.

I have a question about hammer toe treatment

Why would I have treatment for hammer toe?

If you have hammer toe (also known as claw toe or mallet toe) and conservative methods have been unsuccessful, surgery may be required to correct your condition or to reshape or shorten the toe bones (metatarsals).

Hammer toe can cause other problems such as blisters, calluses and corns. If it causes stress on the ball of the foot, this can lead to pain in other areas of your foot. Hammer toe can be more problematic if you have poor circulation or diabetes.

Our experienced Podiatry team specialises in diagnosing and treating hammer toe and they can advise on the best hammer toe surgery or treatment for you.

What is the treatment for hammer toe?

Treatment for hammer toe ranges from using self-help methods such as wearing shoes that fit properly, padding prominent areas, wearing shoe inserts that can reposition your toe, taking medication to reduce pain and swelling, and carrying out foot exercises to restore muscle balance. Exercise can help relieve your pain through correcting the muscle imbalances in your toe, such as crumpling a towel to help strengthen your toe flexors and stretching the muscles on the top of your toes to help relieve tightness.

In more severe cases, steroid (corticosteroid or cortisone) injections directly into the joint may be recommended to help reduce inflammation. Hammer toe surgery may also be recommended to correct the condition.

What happens during treatment for hammer toe?

Your operation may be carried out under a general anaesthetic (where you’ll be asleep) or a local anaesthetic (where you’ll be awake, but unable to feel anything). A typical hammer toe operation takes less than an hour and you’ll usually go home on the same day.

There are several surgical techniques used to treat hammer toes, depending on the severity of your condition. Milder cases may involve removing a small piece of bone from the joint, to realign the toe.

Severe cases may require surgery to release or lengthen tendons, put joints back into place or change the shape of a bone to realign the toe. In such cases, wires or tiny screws may be needed to fix your toe in place.

How much does treatment for hammer toe cost?

To find out the cost of hammer toe surgery, complete our online quotation form or contact our Private Patient Team on 01580 363158.

Contact us about hammer toe treatment

It's easy to find out more about treatment by giving us a call or completing our enquiry form.