Hammer toe and mallet toe are foot deformities that occur due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. The type of shoes you wear, foot structure, trauma and certain disease processes can contribute to the development of these deformities.A hammertoe has an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. Mallet toe affects the joint nearest the toenail. Hammertoe and mallet toe usually occur in your second, third and fourth toes. Relieving the pain and pressure of hammer toe and mallet toe may involve changing your footwear and wearing orthotics. If you have a more severe case of hammertoe or mallet toe, you might need surgery to get relief.