Conditions & Treatments

Claw Toe

This foot deformity is often caused by wearing shoes that squeeze your toes, although it may also be associated with the nerve damage caused by diabetes or alcoholism. In this condition your toes appear to “claw”, or bent downward digging into the soles of your shoes. Claw toe worsens without treatment and may become a permanent deformity over time.

Symptoms:

  • The main symptom is pain.
  • Claw-shaped deformity to the affected toes.
  • Calluses on the upper part and the tip of the toes from pressure and rubbing on the shoe.
  • Ulcers and infections may develop in diabetic patients because of decreased sensitivity in the foot.

A claw toe should be evaluated by a doctor. Certain neurological disorders that can weaken your foot muscles need to be ruled out. Trauma and inflammation can also cause claw toe deformity.

In the early stages, before the claw toe fixed and hardened, it helps to:

  • Wear shoes with soft and roomy toe boxes.
  • Avoid high heels.
  • Strengthen toe muscles with stretching and exercises such as picking up marbles with the toes.
  • Stretch the upper part of the shoe to help accommodate a fixed claw toe.
  • Wear soft pads in the shoe over the corns or calluses.

If these treatments do not help, surgical correction may be necessary with a goal of realigning the toe. Procedures may include:

  • Cutting, lengthening, or repositioning tendons, or shortening the bone of the phalanx (a bone in your toe).
  • Insertion of a steel pin to fix the corrected position of the toe.