What is Claw Toe?

Mention claws, hammers and mallets, and you might think you’re looking through someone’s toolbox. While such items are useful to construction workers, the words are also used to refer to tools that are used by everyone – our toes! When your small toes don’t look quite right, bend in an odd way, or are painful and you can’t move them properly, you might have claw toes. A deformity like this can cause these important “tools” to malfunction, affect your normal activity, and cause you pain.

Why Does My Toe Look Like a Claw?
While there are less common causes like nerve damage or heredity, by far the most prevalent reason for the formation of claw toes is shoes that are too tight. Your toes have two muscles that make them move – one to curl them and one to extend them. If the toes are regularly crammed into pointed or tight shoes, the muscles and ligaments can’t function properly. Keeping the toes constantly bent causes the tendons to shorten, and the muscles that extend the toes eventually become too weak to do so – even when your shoes are off. When several of your small toes bend up at the base joints and curl down at the two end joints, they are called claw toes. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to visit Dr. Stavros Alexopoulos at My Chicago Foot Expert for a consultation.

What to Do for Claw Toes
The main effects of this toe deformity are pain and friction from shoes. You may notice that your toes hurt when walking, dancing or running, or that you can’t find shoes that don’t rub against the tops or pads of your toes. Painful calluses or corns may form at the points of friction. There are things you can do to address these problems. Although they won’t straighten your toes, they may give you a certain measure of relief:

  • Shoes – Find styles that give your toes enough room to move and straighten and don’t rub against them.
  • Cushioning – Use moleskin, corn and callus pads, and possibly arch supports to protect the toes from friction. We may recommend fitting you with custom orthotics to give you the best relief.
  • Pain Control – We may recommend that you take an over the counter pain reliever, or we may prescribe something stronger if necessary.
  • Exercises – We can provide you with exercises to strengthen your toe muscles and prevent the toes from becoming any worse than they are.

For the best results, be sure to contact Dr. Alexopoulos at My Chicago Foot Expert at the first sign of a claw toe. Early treatment is the key to preventing this condition from becoming rigid and painful.  Early intervention will head off the disabling effects this deformity can have on your activities. Call us today at (773) 561-8100 or just click on the “Request an appointment today!” box to request an appointment online.