Things that Can Make Your Toes Curl


We’ll bet you’ve witnessed some toe-curling events in life - something surprising, unexpected, perhaps a bit scary or gross. Our bodies react in common ways. Our shoulders lift, our face screws up into a grimace and our toes curl up in our shoes. Blech, that was disgusting!

But toe-curling isn’t always provoked by a one-time event. Toes can curl gradually over time due to faulty mechanics, pressure from poorly-fitting shoes, diabetes, or injury. That’s when you’ve got a toe deformity that may need a doctor’s care.

Three kinds of toe-curls

The board-certified podiatrists at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Center - Samantha Boyd, DPM, Hal Ornstein, DPM, Dan Phan, DPM, and Joseph Saka, DPM - point out that there are 3 common ways toes can become deformed. The only difference has to do with the joint or joints being affected.

  1. Hammertoe
    A hammertoe has an abnormal bend at the middle joint. The middle joint pops up, while the tip of the toe points downward.
  2. Mallet toe
    With a mallet toe, the tip of the toe points downward without involvement of the middle joint. Only the joint closest to the tip of your toe is affected.
  3. Claw toe
    Both joints are affected when you’ve got claw tow, and your entire toe curls downward toward the floor like an animal’s claw. 

Treatments for toe deformities

If you’ve got a hammertoe, mallet toe, or claw toe, treatment may or may not be necessary. It’s possible that the deformity doesn’t bother you. But in many cases, you may have problems wearing shoes and you may experience pain. You may develop painful corns and calluses as a result of the bent toe rubbing against your shoes.

In these cases, you should make an appointment with us for an evaluation at one of our podiatry offices in either Jackson or Howell, NJ. Our doctors can treat toe problems with:

Surgery may be your only option to permanently repair a toe, get it back into a straight position, and relieve your pain. To discuss all your options for fixing hammertoes, mallet toes, and claw toes, give us a call at (732) 905-1110 or contact us online.