Toes are meant to lay flat against the ground and stay flexible enough to wiggle and spread freely. This allows them to help you balance and push off the ground when you step. Problems like claw toe, which stiffen and curl your digits, can make it uncomfortable and difficult to wear shoes and walk normally.
A claw toe is caused by weakened muscles in your feet. You have pairs of muscles that control your digits, allowing them to both bend and straighten. If one side becomes too weak to support the toes, its opposite contracts and tightens. The little digits then bend and curl under at the middle and end joints, creating a claw effect. This condition can affect one or more of your smaller toes at one time, though it seems to typically affect a whole foot when it develops.
Several different factors can cause this condition. Too-tight shoes that squeeze your toes and trap them in a bent position are common culprits, but not the only ones. Nerve damage, particularly from diabetes, is another issue. Injuries that affect your nerves or problems like arthritis can also contribute to clawed toes.
Tight tissues and constantly bent digits are uncomfortable. The toes also tend to press into your footwear and rub against the fabric of your shoes. This can lead to blisters, corns, and calluses. They can also make it difficult to fit into and wear many types of shoes.
Straightening the Toes
This condition does not improve on its own. Typically, it gets worse with time. If it goes untreated for too long, it may even become a permanent problem. The key to relieving the discomfort and restoring your toes is to invest in properly treating the problem before it has a chance to advance too far.
Dr. Darren Silvester and our team here at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic will carefully examine your lower limbs to not only diagnose your deformed toes, but also determine the source of the issue. Then, we can help you begin a targeted treatment plan to manage the condition.
You will most likely need to change your shoes to models with wider, deeper toe boxes. Keep roughly half an inch of space between the end of your toes and the tips of your shoes so your digits are not squished. Avoid footwear with a pointed toe box or high heels that can force your forefoot into the cramped front of the shoe. You may need special toe sleeves to protect your feet from corn and callus formation. Special pads or orthotics can help relieve pressure on your forefoot that may be aggravating the position, too.
To help relieve the pain, stretch out your toes regularly to relax tightened tissues. Balance this with exercises to work the muscles in your toes. Strengthening the digits can help you straighten your digits back out again overtime. Stretching your toes backwards and picking up small objects with just your feet are two excellent actions that benefit your lower limbs in this way. If nerve issues led to the problem, you’ll also need additional treatment to manage whatever caused the issue in the first place.
If you are struggling with one or more painful claw toe, know that you don’t have to suffer. The sooner you treat the condition, the sooner you’ll relieve the discomfort—and the less likely you’ll develop a permanent problem. Let Dr. Darren Silvester here at Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic know if you have toe troubles. We can help you relieve your discomfort and heal your feet. Call 210.375.3318 or submit a request online to reach our office in Universal City, TX.