Hammer toe, claw toe and correction

A hammer toe and a claw toe are two abnormalities of the toe that cause it to look curved. Not only is this less attractive, a hammer toe or a claw toe mainly causes pain. Corns can also develop that keep returning despite removal. Many people suffer from one of these abnormalities, sometimes as a result of an underlying disease such as diabetes and rheumatism. Fortunately, there are various ways of treatment.

What is a hammer toe?

A hammer toe is also sometimes called a claw toe. Yet this is not correct, because a claw toe is different from a hammer toe. In this article we discuss both separately. The Latin name for hammer toe is Digitus malleus. It is a deformity of the toe in which the tip of the toe, also called the terminal phalanx, points straight down. Hammertoe is common among the population. In the past, a hammer toe was remedied by cutting a hole in the shoe, giving the toe more space. Nowadays, hammer toe is easy to treat.

Recognizing Hammertoe

A hammer toe does not occur on the big toe but on the little toes. The toe contains three phalanges, with joints between them so that the phalanges can be bent relative to each other. With a hammer toe, the joint between the first and second phalanx is forcibly bent. This causes the top of the toe, the end phalanx, to point straight down. This easily causes painful corns to develop at the tip of the toe (the lowest point) and at the top (the highest point). These corns can be removed, but they always come back. This is caused by friction and pressure on the bone or joint. A corn is an inwardly grown callus. A corn is also called a corn’s eye.
Hammertoe is often seen with diabetes or rheumatism, but can also occur as a result of old age. Another cause may be the big toe. If it is crooked and compresses the adjacent toe, it can eventually warp. A congenital defect may also be the cause. This abnormality does not always have to be immediately visible at birth, but can also develop later during the walking phase.

Symptoms of a claw toe

A claw toe looks slightly different from a hammer toe. Similar to a hammer toe, the joint between the first and second phalanx is bent. But something else occurs with a claw toe: the joint between the first phalanx and the metatarsal bone (of the foot itself) is also forcibly overextended. By overextension we do not mean a bending in the direction of the joint, but a bending in the opposite direction (called overextension). With a claw toe, the tip of the toe does not touch the ground, which is the case with a hammer toe. The cause of a claw toe is the same as that of a hammer toe. Sometimes no clear cause can be found. Another cause may lie in the hip, which causes poor foot position while walking. The unrolling of the toes is then not done correctly, which can ultimately lead to a hammer toe or claw toe.

Arch support

In non-serious cases, an arch support can be fitted. An arch support provides extra support behind the heads of the tarsal bones. This relieves the toe and prevents pain. There is also the functional sole: it has a restorative effect by stimulating weaker muscles and slowing down overly strong muscles. There are people who benefit from this sole, but not everyone notices a difference. It is important that the rolling of the toes is corrected and that pressure points are relieved. An orthopedist can help with this and draw up a treatment plan together. Orthopedic footwear is also an option, leaving room for the toe. This causes pain complaints to disappear. However, the patient must be aware that in most cases all these aids are symptomatic treatment and not a definitive solution. The corrective sole, on the other hand, can sometimes be the solution to the problem.


In severe cases, surgery is necessary. The first toe joint can be stiffened so that it is straight again. Sometimes this joint is also removed. In the case of a less serious deformity, correction of the muscle or tendon can sometimes be achieved. During surgery, it is always examined whether this is also possible given the age and condition of the patient. In addition, the surgeon must take into account matters such as work or sports that the patient practices.

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  • Remove callus, corn, corn
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