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Richardson Podiatry Center

The Differences Between Toe Deformities

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Toe deformities aren’t normal, but they aren’t quite as rare as you might expect. In part, this can be attributed to the fact that there are several different types of toe deformities that you might develop. The inherent cause is most often a muscular imbalance—especially as we look at hammertoe, mallet toe, and claw toe—but sometimes a nerve issue is at fault.

We find that patients tend to be reasonably familiar with hammertoes, but less so with claw toe and mallet toe, although they are actually similar conditions. Here is a breakdown of these respective ailments:

  • Toe deformitiesHammertoes When you have a toe (typically the one directly next to the big toe) that is abnormally bent up at the middle joint, this is the most likely condition. The top half of the toe bends downwards in this deformity in such a manner that the shape of the toe resembles a hammer.
  • Mallet Toe – In the same way, a mallet toe will most likely affect your second toe as well. It is different, however, in the location of the abnormal bend. Instead of being at the middle joint, it happens at the one closest to the tip of your toe. A mallet usually has a smaller head than a hammer, and this condition more closely resembles that particular shape.
  • Claw Toe – The third of these respective toe deformities can affect any of the smaller toe joints. Another pronounced difference is the fact that this condition will typically be found in all four of the smaller toes on the foot, instead of just a single one. The metatarsophalangeal joint—the joint located at base of the toe—bends upwards, while the other two joints bend downwards. This provides the appearance of a talon or claw, which is how the condition receives its name.

There are clearly certain differences between the various types of toe deformities, but one thing they all have in common is that the conditions are progressive. This means they will worsen over time when left untreated.

If you or a loved one has a toe that is bent in an abnormal fashion, it is important to come in and receive treatment to prevent the condition from worsening. Over time, these deformities can become more rigid, so early treatment is definitely best. Call our Richardson, TX office at (972) 690-5374 or schedule an appointment with us online today. We can evaluate your unique situation and then create a treatment plan that works for you.

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