Hammer Toes, as well as Claw Tow or Mallet Toe, refers to toes that take on a bent or contracted position in which muscles and tendons tighten and shorten. Hammertoe forms in the middle toe joint where the bent appearance causes the toe to resemble the head of a hammer.
Claw toe forms in the base joint that joins the toe to the rest of the foot. When this joint constricts, the toe takes on a claw-like appearance.
Mallet toe is a deformity at the end of the toe. As the end joint constricts, the end of the toe looks somewhat like a mallet.
Painful corns and infections may develop at the joint if there is repetitive pressure. Pain may also result from calluses that develop under the tip of the toe or on the ball of the foot. Sometimes these toe deformities are the result of heredity or medical issues including diabetes, arthritis and stroke. Improper footwear, pressure from a bunion or vigorous activity can also aggravate the problem. Too short and narrow shoes, shoes with pointed toes and shoes with high heels restrict the toes by bending them and bending them and forcing them into unnatural positions.
Shoes with deeper, fuller toe boxes can release pressure. Soft soles provide soft flexibility as well. The pressure relief insole features a medical-grade plastazote cover that offers a soft, pillow-like cushion. A hammertoe cushion is an over-the-counter accessory that can relieve pressure on the toe tips. Toe protectors are also available, that stretch over the toes to relieve pressure from friction.