Hammertoes and mallet toes are conditions that have a lot in common, but they are separate disorders and affect slightly different areas. Both are common problems that affect joints in the smaller toes—especially the second digit, next to the big toe. They both cause the joints they affect to bend and stiffen. They are also both affected by your footwear choices and foot mechanics: shoes that squeeze your toes or an existing problem that puts unnatural pressure on your toes can induce either issue. The difference is the joint that each affects. A hammertoe affects the middle joint, while mallet toe bends the one closest to the nail.

Fortunately, both hammertoe and mallet toe can be easily managed with conservative treatments. Shoe changes and exercises that stretch out and strengthen the toes can reduce the pain and straighten the affected areas. Sometimes orthotics can also help. If you’re experiencing pain or trouble in your toes, don’t wait and allow them to stiffen to the point that you need more involved treatment to deal with the problem. Instead contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. for an appointment or more information by calling (541) 776-3338.