Hammer and claw toes are toe deformities characterised by toes that are bent in an odd position. A hammer toe curls downward at the middle joint and usually occurs at the second or third toe.
On the other hand, a claw toe is characterised by toes bent into a claw-like position and can affect multiple toes simultaneously.
Apart from the odd appearance of your toes, hammer and claw toes can cause severe pain and the development of calluses or corns resulting from consistent rubbing against ill-fitting footwear. In more severe cases, you may also find it hard to walk and maintain your balance.
Common Causes of Hammer & Claw Toes
The most common cause of hammer and claw toes is the long-term usage of ill-fitting shoes. Wearing overly tight footwear can cause your toes to stay in an unnatural bent position for too long, tightening your muscles and shortening your tendons. Over time, you might find it difficult to straighten the affected toes, resulting in curled toes even when you’re barefooted.
Wearing high heels may also result in hammer and claw toes, which explains why women are more likely to develop such conditions.
Your risk of developing hammer and claw toes might also increase if you have a foot or ankle injury, or suffer from certain diseases like arthritis, diabetes and stroke. Hence, it is recommended to immediately visit our sprained ankle doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Who Needs Hammer Toe and Claw Toe Treatment?
People who have a hammer or claw toe may experience pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving their toes. They may also experience corns or calluses on the affected toe, as well as blisters and sores. Continuously wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes, high heels, or shoes with narrow toe boxes, can make these conditions worse. In addition, underlying medical conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and nerve damage can contribute to the development of a hammer or claw toe. If you have a hammer or claw toe, you can seek treatment from our foot and ankle specialist in Singapore.
Diagnosis of Hammer and Claw Toes
Before diagnosing your hammer and claw toes condition, your doctor will ask some questions about your symptoms and existing health conditions. Questions may include:
- When did the symptoms begin?
- Do you have any corns or calluses?
- What kind of shoes do you wear, and how much time do you spend walking or standing daily?
- Do you have any existing related medical conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis?
- Did you have any previous foot conditions?
Next, your doctor will examine your foot to check if the toe joint is flexible or rigid. If your toes are still flexible, it means that your condition is in the early stage where your toes still flex at the joints despite being stiff. If your toes are rigid, your condition is in the late stage where your toes are stuck and unable to move.
Your doctor may also recommend further tests to aid with hammer and claw toes diagnosis, including x-rays, blood flow testing and nerve testing.
Precautions Before Hammer Toe and Claw Toe Treatment
Before undergoing treatment for a hammer or claw toe, it is important to disclose any medical conditions or medications you are taking to our orthopaedic specialist in Singapore, as these may impact the effectiveness or safety of certain treatments. You should avoid wearing tight or constrictive footwear, which can worsen the condition and hinder the healing process.
Treatment Options for Hammer Toe and Claw Toe
Treatment options for hammer and claw toe are recommended depending on the severity of the condition. Non-surgical treatments may include wearing comfortable shoes with adequate support and low heels, or even custom-made shoes. Pads and splints can also help to relieve pain caused by corns and calluses. Additionally, products like arch supports, orthotics, and moleskin can cushion the toes and improve foot positioning. Specific exercises can also strengthen and stretch the foot muscles, such as gently stretching the toes manually or using them to pick up objects from the ground.
If non-surgical treatments do not provide relief, surgery may be necessary. Surgical options may include tendon transfer or tendon lengthening procedures, which involve releasing and repositioning the tendons in the affected toes to restore their normal alignment. In severe cases, a doctor may recommend joint fusion surgery, which involves removing the joint and allowing the toe bones to grow together.
Post-Care Steps After Hammer Toe and Claw Toe Treatment
Recovery time can vary depending on the extent of the hammer and claw toe treatment. Most patients can expect to wear a protective boot or cast for several weeks and undergo physical therapy to regain strength and flexibility in their feet. Patients should also follow any instructions provided by their doctor and attend follow-up appointments to monitor their progress.
Possible Side Effects of Hammer Toe and Claw Toe Treatment
Possible side effects of hammer and claw toe treatment may include pain, swelling, stiffness, and difficulty walking. In rare cases, complications such as infection, nerve damage, or recurrence of the deformity may occur. Patients should discuss the potential risks and benefits of treatment options with their orthopaedic surgeon before undergoing the treatment.
Why Choose OrthofootMD for Hammer Toe and Claw Toe Treatment in Singapore?
OrthofootMD is an excellent choice for those seeking hammer and claw toe treatment in Singapore due to the expertise and experience of Dr Gowreeson Thevendran, our highly skilled foot and ankle surgeon. Dr Gowreeson has years of experience treating foot and ankle conditions, including hammer and claw toe. He uses the right surgical techniques and technologies to provide his patients with the most effective and efficient treatments available. Dr Gowreeson also takes a personalised approach to patient care, taking the time to understand their unique needs and concerns and tailoring treatment plans to meet them.
Dr Gowreeson- Hammer Toe and Claw Toe Specialist
Meet Dr Gowreeson Thevendran, an esteemed orthopaedic surgeon at Island Orthopaedic, which is part of the Healthway Medical Group. Dr Gowreeson specialises in treating a wide range of lower limb orthopaedic conditions including hammer and claw toe, utilising minimally invasive surgical techniques for foot & ankle, knee, and hip/thigh conditions. He is also highly skilled in trauma and fracture surgery for both upper and lower limbs.
Dr Gowreeson received his medical education at the prestigious University of Bristol and completed his surgical training in London, UK. He further pursued subspecialty fellowship training in foot & ankle surgery at the University of British Columbia, sports surgery at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, and complex trauma and deformity correction surgery at Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
Insurance and Medisave Coverage for Hammer Toe and Claw Toe Treatment
OrthofootMD provides different orthopaedic treatments that are covered by Medisave and insurance plans. To verify the eligibility of your hammer and claw toe treatment for Medisave claims and the extent of coverage under their insurance plan, patients are recommended to visit the clinic in Singapore and talk to our team directly.
Get Treatment for Hammer & Claw Toes in Singapore Today
Hammer and claw toes can be corrected with proper and timely treatment. If you notice any signs of hammer and claw toes, please book an appointment with Dr Gowreeson Thevendran, a renowned foot surgeon in Singapore, who will recommend the appropriate treatment for your condition.
Dr Gowreeson Thevendran
MBChB (Bristol), MRCS.Ed, Dip. Sports Med.Ed, FRCS.Ed ( Trauma & Ortho. ), FAMS (Singapore)
- Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery
- English, Malay, Tamil
- Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, University of Bristol, England
- Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh
- Diplomate Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh
- Fellow of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore
- SICOT PIONEER Founders Award 2020
- 2015 European Foot & Ankle Society ‘Best Podium Presentation’ Award
- 2013 Singapore Orthopaedic Association Junior Travelling Fellowship
- 2012 NHG Critical Talent Special Recognition Award
- 1998 Enid Lindt Prize in Clinical Surgery
- 1995 Public Services Department Full Medical scholarship
Frequently Asked Questions About Hammer and Claw Toes
Yes, hammer and claw toes can be corrected without surgery if you seek prompt medical attention. Your doctor may recommend the following non-surgical treatments for hammer and claw toes:
- Switching your footwear to roomy shoes with low heels and adequate arch supports. Athletic shoes and sandals are great options. You could also consider custom-made shoes.
- Using pads and splints to relieve pain caused by corns and calluses.
- Using products that cushion the toe or hold the foot in a more comfortable position, such as arch supports, orthotics and moleskin.
- Specific exercises to strengthen and stretch your foot muscles, such as gently stretching your toes manually or using your toes to pick things off the ground.
However, if conservative treatment doesn’t reduce your pain, you may need surgery.
Surgical options may include the following:
- Arthroplasty: Removal of part of the toe bone. This procedure is also known as phalangeal head resection.
- Arthrodesis: Removal of the joint and letting the toe bones grow together. This is also known as joint fusion.
- Toe implant: To replace a bent joint or straighten a toe.
- Tendon transfer: Transferring tendons from the bottom of the toe to the top of the toe to straighten the joint.
- Tendon lengthening: Lengthening the tendons that are causing the joint imbalance. This treatment is typically for patients with a flexible joint.
Yes, hammer and claw toes may return even after treatment. The best way to prevent hammer and claw toes from recurring is to choose proper footwear. When choosing proper footwear, look out for the following:
- Low heels: High-heeled shoes force the feet into unnatural positions and increase your risk of developing hammer and claw toes.
- Ample toe room: Ensure that your shoes are in the right size and avoid narrow, pointy shoes.
- Adjustable: If possible, opt for shoes with adjustable straps and lace.
- Proper arch support: Shoes with proper arch support can prevent foot ailments in general.
You can also ask your doctor to recommend exercises that you can do to prevent a recurrence.
Just like other foot surgeries such as metatarsalgia surgery or flat foot surgery, the length of recovery from a hammer and claw toe surgery depends on your condition and the type of surgery you had. Generally, you may experience some swelling, stiffness and redness in your toe for up to 4-6 weeks after hammer and claw toe surgery.
Dr Gowreeson Thevendran is currently an orthopaedic surgeon with Island Orthopaedic, a one-stop care centre for orthopaedic health under Healthway Medical Group. He specialises in treating lower limb orthopaedic conditions, as well as trauma and fracture surgery of both the upper and lower limbs. Prior to establishing his private practice, Dr Gowreeson was Chief of Foot & Ankle Surgery at the Department of Orthopaedics at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). Today, he continues to serve the Orthopaedic Department at TTSH as a visiting consultant.