Claw and Hammer Toe

The claw toe and hammer toe deformities are conditions that are primarily caused by the wearing of footwear that is too tight and fits poorly. In some individuals, these deformities can be congenital or due to other problems.

Claw toes appear exactly as their name would suggest, like a closed fist. Because of the joint variations of the toes (big toes have two bones, the other toes have three), claw toes cannot occur in the big toe. Claw toes are the result of a muscle imbalance that causes some of the tendons and ligaments to become unnaturally tight. The cause of this imbalance includes rheumatoid arthritis, neuromuscular disorders, or other conditions. Because of the deformity, a rigid claw toe has very limited mobility and can be very painful.

A hammer toe is classified on the degree of mobility found in the joint itself. There are two types: rigid and flexible. A rigid hammer toe simply does not have much ability to move and even minimal movement can be painful. A flexible hammer toe, however, does have the ability to move and can be straightened manually.

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