Hammertoe vs Mallet Toe

Our title may sound as if a wrestling match is being advertised, but in actual fact, it’s a discussion about deformed toes. Hammertoe and mallet toe are both mild deformities of the toes. Often they get lumped together because in both cases the toes bend downward, but if looked at closely, there is a subtle difference.


Mallet toe:

  • A mallet toe occurs when the outer joint at the tip of the toe remains bent and one is unable to straighten it
  • Mallet toe affects all the toes


  • In hammertoe the deformity is in the inner joint of the toe. The bend downwards causes the middle joint to rise, which gives it the shape of a hammer, thus the name
  • Hammertoe specifically affects the second toe, but can also be formed in the other toes, except the big toe

Causes for both kind of deformities:

  • Due to arthritis and bone and muscle imbalance
  • Any kind of trauma or injury to the toes
  • Nerve damage to the feet
  • High-heels and ill-fitting footwear that’s too tight

Symptoms for both:

  • Pain
  • Formation of corns on top of the toes due to friction as the top of the shoe presses on the raised toe
  • Loss of flexibility in the toe
  • In severe cases sores can form as well

Non-Surgical Treatment:

  • Wear comfortable roomy shoes
  • Pad the corns and calluses
  • Use orthotics in the shoes
  • Pain medication
  • Do exercises to strengthen toe muscles
  • Splinting of the bent toe

We at Syracuse Podiatry located in Fayetteville, NY, in the Syracuse area, are well-equipped to deal with all such deformities. Our board certified podiatrist, Dr. Ryan L. D’Amico is an expert in reconstructive foot and ankle surgery. Along with his team, Dr. D’Amico provides care and commitment to improve the quality of patient’s lives through the treatment of foot and ankle disorders. If your mallet toe or hammertoe is not improving despite the care you are taking, contact Syracuse Podiatry at (315) 446 3668 and make an appointment to see Dr. D’Amico.

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