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Family Foot & Ankle

What is the difference between a hammertoe and claw toe?

Toe deformitiesHammertoes and claw toes are differentiated, chiefly, by the precise joints that are affected.

Most people have 3 joints in each of their smaller toes—one at the base, another in the middle, and a final one near the tip. If you have hammertoes, the middle joint is affected, bending downward. However, claw toes typically affect all three (or at least the first two)—up at the base, down in the middle, and under at the tip.

The two conditions also differ in terms of which toes are more likely to be affected, and their most probable causes. Although there is plenty of overlap, a hammertoe is relatively more likely to affect just the second toe and be caused by tight shoes, while claw toes more typically affect all four smaller toes at once and can be traced to an underlying medical condition such as nerve damage or poor circulation. However, there are plenty of exceptions to these general observations.

As soon as you notice any deformation in your toe joints, call Family Foot and Ankle Center for evaluation. Early treatment is the key to stopping pain before it starts, using simple means. Dial (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572 today.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.