Podiatrist Toronto, ON Sheldon H. Nadal D.P.M.
586 Eglinton Avenue E. Suite 501 Toronto, Ontario M4P1P2
Local: 416-486-9917 Toll free: (877) 456-3338

Understanding Claw Toes: The Basics

Claw foot, also known as claw toes, is a condition where the bottom half of your toe points up while the top half bends down – making your toes look like claws. The very top of your toes might curve under as well. This can manifest from birth, or sometimes, it happens later on. This is also common in cultures that require wearing shoes.



Claw toes can be the result of wearing a shoe that is too short. In some people, the second toe is actually bigger/longer than the big toe, so if the shoes you’re wearing are sized to fit the big toe, the second and maybe even the third toe will have to bend inwards to fit into the show. Pointed shoes make matters worse, especially if combined with high heels. The feet are pushed downhill into a wall, squishing the toes.

Claw toes are also common in people with high arches. The deeper toe muscles are weaker than the surface muscles of the toes, causing a muscle imbalance and can occur from more serious nerve problems.

Other medical underlying causes include: stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cerebral palsy, among others. 



Toes that are squished together for days might become fixed in that position, disabling them from straightening out. When this occurs, pressure would build up in areas of the feet. Painful calluses will also develop from the pressure of the shoe.



Doctors identify the condition by performing a physical exam. In some instances, however, it is important to make sure that there are no other nerve problems present. Some doctors might request for other special tests.



Home Care

If toes are still flexible, try moving them towards their natural position using your hands – just make sure you will not be feeling any pain. You might also want to give your toes some workouts like picking up objects with your feet. Also, wearing properly-fitted shoes makes your feet more comfortable. Avoid wearing tight or high-heeled shoes.


Medical Care

If toes are still flexible, the doctor might tape your toes or require you to wear a splint – just to keep your toes in the right position. If non-invasive techniques work, a need for surgery might be an option. The bone at the base of your toe will be shortened, giving your toe more room to straighten out. If there will be an underlying disorder, the treatment will depend on that underlying cause. 

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