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A Mallet Toe is not the same as a Hammer Toe. A Mallet Toe causes a bend in the tip of the toe, known as the DIP (Distal Interphalangeal joint) joint, while a Hammer Toe causes a bend in the middle part of the toe, in a joint called the PIP (Proximal Interphalangeal Joint).
If the DIP joint is flexible, then a Mallet Toe can be reversed using a combination of stretches, a metatarsal brace or metatarsal pads, corrective footwear and strengthening exercises. A Physical Therapist or a Podiatrist can provide guidance on the best form of treatment.
Yes, you can continue walking when you have a Mallet Toe, but it is important to consider wearing spacious cushioned shoes and stretching before and after.
If you have a painful Mallet Toe, we recommend short, frequent walks of 15-20 minutes on flat surfaces.
Some hereditary factors indicate genetics play a role in the development of Mallet Toe, where the likelihood of this condition increases as you become older and if you have arthritis.
If Mallet Toe goes untreated, it is likely to worsen especially if you do not address the causes of your injury. The most common causes of Mallet Toe are tight-fitting shoes, high heels, arthritis, muscle imbalances and previous trauma to the joint.
If you run on a Mallet Toe, it is likely to worsen the symptoms, especially for the skin on the toe. The high forces and impact associated with running can lead to callus and corn formation, resulting in a fixed mallet toe that is only correctable with surgery.
It is possible to tape a Mallet Toe. When taping a Mallet Toe of the second toe, place a thin piece of tape across the bottom of the big toe, then up and over the top of the DIP joint of the second, around the side and under the toe to reattach to the big toe joint.
This should help hold the DIP joint in extension, but it is not a long-term solution, and we recommend consulting a Podiatrist before trying this taping method.
Metatarsal Pads are highly effective for Mallet Toe as they lift the metatarsal heads of the affected toe, altering where pressure is applied to the toes and encouraging the extension of a Mallet Toe rather than flexion, which worsens the symptoms of Mallet Toe.
Related Article: Best Metatarsal Pads
This is not medical advice and we recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack before trying any of these exercises. James offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.