Claw Toes

What is Claw Toe?

Claw toe is a disorder that affects the small toes. This condition is called claw toe because the toes develop a claw or talon-like appearance, bending upwards at the first toe joint and then bending downwards.

What causes Claw Toe?

Claw toe is caused by a muscle imbalance in the toes. This imbalance may be due to shoes that do not fit correctly, but it can also be caused a variety of conditions, including cerebral palsy, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, stroke, or others that may weaken the muscles used to keep the toes straight. The weakened muscles are then overpowered by the muscles used to bend the toes. Over time, the muscles used for bending the toes tighten, while the tendons and ligaments of the toes shorten. It's this imbalance that causes the toes to fix in the abnormal position.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Aside from the fixed, claw-like appearance, another symptom of claw toes is painful calluses on the toes. These calluses may form where the toes rub against the inside of shoes.

How is Claw Toe treated?

Several different treatment options are available for claw toe. Conservative treatment methods may include padding, taping, or splinting the toes, changing footwear, and stretching the toe muscles with physical therapy. If the condition is severe or conservative methods have no effect, surgery may be necessary.

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