Conditions and Treatments

Claw Toes

There are three deformities of the toe that are somewhat similar however they are distinct in that they affect different toe joints. These deformities are as follows: Claw Toe, Hammer Toe, and Mallet Toe.

Here we will discuss the Claw Toe deformity. With this deformity the middle and end toe joints are contracted (tightened) by ligaments and tendons that have tightened. This results in the affected toe/toes being pulled downward. This condition may occur in any single toe or in multiple toes. The Claw Toe deformity may be classified as either flexible (the toe/toes may be straightened out manually) or rigid (the toe/toes are in a rigid/fixed position).

Possible Causes of Claw Toes

  • Arthritis - while the Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid types of this disease may be a factor with this condition, A less common form of this disease known as Psoriatric Arthritis may affect the toe joints by causing severe swelling. This swelling causes the toe joints to appear like tightly encased sausages. As a result, the ligaments and tendons become constricted and natural mobility is limited.
  • Congenital - this condition may be hereditary.
  • Diabetes - nerve damage can occur as a result of Peripheral Neuropathy which can be a complication of Diabetes.
  • Improperly Fitted Footwear - wearing shoes that are too tight and do not provide appropriate foot arch support or allow for the proper range of motion of the entire foot may be a contributing factor. Also, pulling hosiery and socks onto the feet so tightly that the toes curl may also contribute to this foot condition. Note: Special attention must be paid to children who rapidly outgrow their shoes. They are at higher risk of developing this condition if they are allowed to continue wearing outgrown shoes.
  • Neurological Disorders - this condition may also be present with Cerebral Palsy and also with Muscular Dystrophy or it may be associated with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease. This condition may also affect individuals who have experienced a stroke.
  • Over-Pronation ("Flat Feet") - may be a factor in this condition. With the foot condition Over-Pronation, during walking the arch of the foot collapses under the pressure of the weight being placed on the foot. Because a "Flat Foot" is longer than a foot with a normal arch when the foot flattens and lengthens, a higher than tolerable degree of tension is placed on the foot and the affected toe/toes may not be able to resist this level of stress. As a result of the increased tension the toe/toes may curl into a downward position.
  • Traumatic Injury - may cause nerve damage that can result in muscular imbalance.

Symptoms of Claw Toes

*Upon visual inspection:

  1. The affected toe/toes have an obvious bend/curve.
  2. The top of the affected toe/toes may reflect redness or a thickening of the skin because of the fact that the middle joint is bent and the top of the shoe is rubbing against the skin and causing an irritation. In this case, a "corn" may be developing. The tip of the affected toe/toes may also show evidence that a "corn" may be developing because with this foot condition the end joint is also bent downward and this causes the affected toe/toes to press into the sole of the shoe. Due to the bending of the affected toe/toes, and the excessive stress this places on the ball of the foot, a callus may develop on that portion of the foot.
  3. You may have varying degrees of discomfort/pain depending upon how long you have had this condition and how severe the condition is.

Possible Solutions for Claw Toes

We at Seliga Shoes believe that wearing shoes that are too tight will inhibit the natural motion of the foot and may potentially lead to foot deformities. Proper range of motion combined with proper arch support will help to optimize the health and the biomechanics of the entire foot. An appropriate shoe for this condition would be a shoe with a higher, roomier toe box. This type of shoe will take the pressure off of the toe joint(s).

Individuals have shared with us that they have experienced significant relief after wearing clogs, sandals, and shoes that provided their feet with a more functional arch support. As a matter of fact, many people notice almost instant relief once they have slipped on a pair of shoes that provide the proper arch support and allow for the proper range of motion of the foot.