Claw toes occurs when there is a deformity or bend in the lesser toe joints, often caused by a tightening in the tendons attaching to this area. This toe deformity causes your toe to bend or curl downward instead of being straight.
Although claw toes may be present at birth, it usually develops over time due to wearing ill-fitting shoes or poor foot posture that force the toes into a bent position, causing the muscles to shorten and further contract.
In most cases, claw toes are treatable either conservatively or by surgical intervention depending on the severity of the deformity.
Causes of Claw Toes:
Common causes of this joint dislocation include:
- Ill fitting footwear (high heels, narrow toe box, incorrect size).
- Children outgrowing their footwear and wearing shoes that are too small.
- Injury and/or trauma to the toe.
- Poor foot posture, such as high arched feet, causing compensations to occur in the feet and overwork the muscles that attach to your toe joints.
- Poor balance or ankle instability causing the toes to contract to maintain stability.
- Tightened and contraction of ligaments or tendons in the foot (i.e. diabetes).
- Pressure from a bunion (when the big toe deviates inwards towards your second toe).
- Nerve damage may cause all of your toes to curl up.
Symptoms of Claw Toes:
- Dislocation of the lesser toe joints, located in the tips of the toes (demonstrated on X-ray).
- Toe that bends downwards instead of being straight
- Discomfort when walking or movement of toe.
- Callus or corns due to deformity and increased pressure on toes when walking.
- Inability to flex your foot or wiggle your toes as the condition progresses.
- Bunion putting pressure on 2nd toe and causing deformity.
Treatment for Claw Toes:
- Physical therapy of stretching, joint mobilisation ,blanace and toe exercises.
- Proper fitting shoes with a fastening to prevent pressure and clawing.
- Toe props or wedges to reduce pressure and increase comfort.
- Foot Orthotics to correct poor foot function leading to compensations and overworking of the toe muscles.
- Surgery to reposition the toe, with pins or fusion of the joints.
Well Heeled Podiatry can provide aids and treatment modalities to help offload pressure to the toes and help improve symptoms of discomfort and pain.