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Podiatrist - Washington
853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 225-7410
(724) 225-9469 - fax

Upon hearing the name of this toe condition, you may think we are discussing a type of feature on an animal. It definitely sounds like a characteristic you would find on a bird, but in fact this is a condition that causes toes to bend in an odd way. This toe deformity is often grouped with hammertoes and mallet toes, but there are slight differences. It can be a painful problem and one that can affect your normal activity level.

Contact Dr. Philip Pinsker to learn about this toe condition and its symptoms, or if you have any questions or are in need of treatment. Call our Washington, PA office at (724) 225-7410 to make an appointment.

What happened to my toes?

Sometimes known as “claw foot,” this condition is named after the appearance of the toes, which are bent and curled up, looking like claws. Claw toes can develop from several different conditions. A common cause is nerve damage in the feet from conditions such as diabetes and alcoholism. Nerve damage tends to weaken the muscles in your foot, and the resulting imbalance can force the tendons in your toes to tighten and bend abnormally. Arthritis, which causes joint inflammation, can lead to this type of deformity as can Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. This is a disorder that affects your nervous system and can cause weakness in your feet and toe deformities.

A prevalent reason for the development of claw toes is wearing shoes that are too tight. Your toes have muscles, which they use to curl up and extend. Being squeezed into tight, pointed shoes for long periods of time forces the toes to stay in a curled, bent position. Over time, the ligaments and muscles in your toes can lose proper functioning and curl into the claw-like position. Claw toes bend up at the joint nearest to the ball of the foot and then curl back down at the two end joints.

What will help my claw toes?

The best thing you can do is to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent the condition from worsening. In some cases, claw toes do not cause any pain, but they are considered a progressive condition and can become a permanent deformity. Toes usually start out flexible but can become rigid and harden into place over time. You may experience corns and/or calluses from the toes rubbing against your shoes and they may hurt while walking or running.

In the early stages when toes are still flexible, we encourage patients to wear roomy shoes that give toes enough space to fully straighten. Moleskin and callus or corn pads will protect the tops of your toes from friction, and splints or taping can help hold the toes in their correct position. We encourage stretching and strengthening exercises to prevent the toes from getting worse and find that custom orthotics are very beneficial in helping relieve symptoms. Orthotics are inserts that fit inside your shoes; they keep your feet in proper alignment and help distribute weight evenly across your feet and toes.

When these treatments fail to work, surgery may be necessary in more severe cases. Again, early treatment is crucial in preventing toes from becoming permanently curled. Contact Philip S. Pinsker, D.P.M. at the first sign of claw toe problems. Call our Washington, PA office today at (724) 225-7410 or request an appointment online