Mallet toe happens when the joint at the tip of the toe remains bent and unable to straighten with the other toe joints being straight. The condition, caused by arthritis and bone and muscle imbalances, can be painful due to the toe’s down-turned tip rubbing against footwear, which creates pressure on the toe. Formation of corns on top of the affected toe is common from the friction caused as the toe presses or rubs against the top of the shoe. An ulcer at the tip of the toe often occurs.
High heels and any ill-fitting footwear that puts pressure on the toes can lead to or worsen mallet toe. The condition can also be aggravated by an active lifestyle, sports, and exercise. Mallet toe treatment includes wearing comfortable shoes with a roomy toe box to accommodate the deformity and reduce friction. Supportive gel inserts for the toe area can also relieve irritation, pain, and discomfort. Surgery is a quick and easy correction and is sometimes necessary.