Curved and Painful Toes May Be Claw Toe

Our toes are slender and long and they bear an incredible amount of stress every day when we walk, run and even just stand. No wonder that these hardworking extremities are vulnerable to a variety of injuries and deformities.

One type of deformity is when your toes bend into a claw-like shape. Claw toe, also called claw foot, may be present from birth or can arise later in life. In claw foot, the toe joints closest to the heel of your foot point up and the other toe joints are bent down, resembling claws.

In many cases claw foot doesn’t hurt at all. But the toes may be painful and they may also develop calluses or corns or even ulcers where they rub against the inside of your shoes.

Note that claw toes are not hammertoe even though they may have a similar appearance. These conditions are caused by different foot muscles.

What Causes Claw Toe?

Claw toe is primarily due to a muscle imbalance that can result after a foot or ankle injury. Nerve damage or inflammation can also weaken the foot muscles and cause an imbalance, bending the toes.

Certain disorders can also result in a claw foot:

Determining the cause of claw foot can be frustrating as sometimes the underlying cause can’t be detected.

Treating Claw Foot

If you notice that your toes are bending into a claw-like shape, even if they are still flexible, please visit Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM for an examination.

For toes that are bent but still flexible, we will tape or splint them to maintain their correct positions. Home exercises like picking up objects with your toes can help keep the toes flexible. If these non-invasive treatments don’t work, we will discuss surgery with you to help your toe straighten out.

Prevent claw toes before they begin by wearing shoes with lots of room, especially in the toe box. Avoid high heels and tight shoes. A special pad can also take excess pressure away from the ball of your foot.

Author
Stavros Alexopoulos One of Chicago’s top podiatrists, Stavros Alexopoulos, DPM, treats routine to complex foot and ankle issues. Dr. Alexopoulos is currently accepting new patients at My Chicago Foot Expert located near Ravenswood, North Park, and Jefferson Park.

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