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.
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:
- Diabetes – because of nerve damage in the feet due to high levels of blood sugar
- Rheumatoid arthritis – with this disease, your immune system attacks healthy joint tissue and the joint lining becomes inflamed
- Cerebral palsy – due to the disease’s effect on muscle tone, making them too loose or too stiff
- Stroke – because of the stoppage of blood flow to the brain with a blood clot or weak blood vessels, a stroke can cause nerve damage and affect your foot muscles
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.
We Can Help with Any Type of Sports Injury
Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating a wide variety of toe deformities and abnormalities. Many treatments and surgeries can be addressed right here in our office. Please call our Chicago office at (773) 561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. Toe deformities are not normal and will only get worse – call us today!