What is a hammer toe or claw toe/mallet toe?
A hammer toe is a relatively common and often painful condition affecting the second, third or fourth toes. A muscle imbalance in the muscles and tendons that normally hold your toe straight causes an abnormal bend in the middle joint of the toe, a mallet toe is similar but affects the joint nearest your toenail.
Hammer toe causes your shoes to rub and sometimes affects the way you walk. This can cause further problems to develop such as blisters, calluses and corns, and, if it causes stress on the ball of the foot this can lead to referred pain (metatarsalgia) in other areas of the foot.
The condition has two stages; flexible hammer toes (where toes can still be moved at the joint) and rigid hammer toes (where the joint cannot be moved). Rigid hammer toes occur at a later stage, where the tendons are locked in place, and surgery is usually required to correct this condition.