What is a Claw Toe?
Claw toe is a deformity where a toe bends and appears like a bird’s claw. The affected toe is bent upward from the joint at the ball of the foot, and downward at the joints in the middle and tip of the toe to curl under the foot. Hard, thick skin called corns may develop under the ball of the foot or on the top of the affected toe, causing pain while walking.
What are the Common Causes of Claw Toe?
Claw toe can occur in the four toes other than the big toe due to nerve damage, which weakens the muscles. It may be present at birth or acquired later due to other disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, cerebral palsy and brain injury. Women are affected more often than men since claw toe can also form by wearing very tight or high-heeled shoes.
How is Claw Toe Diagnosed?
When you present to your doctor’s office with these symptoms, your doctor performs a physical examination of the foot and orders tests to rule out other nerve disorders that can weaken the muscles in the foot.
What are the Treatment Options for Claw Toe?
Claw toe is first treated conservatively with regular stretching of the toe and toe joints, wearing soft comfortable shoes with a broader toe box, or splinting or taping to hold or align the toes in the correct position. When conservative treatment does not relieve symptoms, your doctor may suggest surgical correction of the toe.
Click here to learn more about Claw Toe from the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS).