Hammer, claw, and mallet toes are toes that are bent into an odd position. They may look strange or may hurt, or both. These toe problems almost always happen in the four smaller toes, not the big toe.
- A hammer toe bends down toward the floor at the middle toe joint. This causes the middle toe joint to rise up. It usually affects the second toe. Hammer toes often occur with bunions.
- Claw toe often affects the four smaller toes at the same time. The toes bend up at the joint where the toes and the foot meet. They bend down at the middle joints and at the joints nearest the tip of the toes. This causes the toes to curl down toward the floor.
- A mallet toe bends down at the joint closest to the tip of the toe. It often affects the second toe, but it may happen in the other toes too.
If you notice that your toe looks odd or hurts, talk to your doctor. You may be able to fix your toe with home treatment. If you don't treat the problem right away, you are more likely to need surgery.