We often underestimate our lowly toes. They are under a lot of stress all the time when we run, walk or even just stand.
Because of the excessive stress placed on these slender bones and tissues, they are subject to many kinds of deformities and injuries. One kind of deformity is when your toes are bent into a claw-like shape. This is called claw toe, or claw foot. You can see it in your toes if the joints closest to the back of your foot point up when the other toe joints are bending down. The toes resemble a claw.
Usually claw toes don’t cause any pain, but some people do experience discomfort and can develop corns or calluses because of the toes rubbing against your shoes.
Claw toes are similar to hammertoes in that the toes are unusually bent, but different muscles are involved in the two deformities.
Claw Toe Is Caused by Many Different Conditions
Claw foot may be present from birth or certain muscle problems or diseases can cause it to occur in later life:
- Most cases of claw toe are due to a muscle imbalance. This can occur after an ankle or foot injury, or as a result of inflammation and nerve damage weakening the foot muscles.
- Diabetes can cause nerve damage because of uncontrolled blood sugar levels and can weaken muscles.
- Cerebral palsy can make muscles too stiff or too loose.
- Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of the joint lining due to the immune system attacking healthy joint tissue.
- A stroke can cause nerve damage and affect foot muscles when the blood flow to the brain is affected.In many cases, the underlying cause of a claw foot is never determined.
How We Treat Claw Toes
Please give us a call at Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle if you observe that your toes are bending unnaturally or are painful or stiff.
If the toes are still flexible, taping or splinting them into their correct positions can correct the imbalance. Picking objects up with your toes and other home exercises can help keep the toes flexible.
If these conservative measures don’t work, or if your toes are already rigidly bent, we will discuss surgical options to help your toes straighten.You can prevent claw foot by wearing shoes that are roomy, especially in the toe box. Don’t wear tight shoes or those with high heels.
Let Us Help with Toe Discomfort or Deformity
Dr. Lawrence J. Kales, board certified podiatrist, has extensive experience with all types of toe problems and deformities including claw toes and hammertoes. Please come in to Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle for an examination – you can request an appointment via the website or call us at our Hudson, FL office at (727) 868-2128 or our Spring Hill, FL office at (352) 683-5799.