posted on 14 Mar 2014 14:51 by donnalifts
WhatIs a Claw Toe?
Hammertoes, mallet toes, and claw toes are a very common lesser toe (toes2 through 5) deformity that often is painful, and limits functionand shoe wear selection.
A clawtoe is a deformity of the toe in which the MTP joint (metatarsophalangealjoint-the joint that joins the toe to the rest of the foot) is pulledup or extended. The mid toe joints (interphalangeal joints) areflexed, producing a toe that resembles a claw. (Fig. 1)
A hammertoe is a deformity in which the middle interphalangeal joint(IPJ) is flexed. (Fig. 2)
A mallettoe is a lesser toe deformity in where the end joint (distalIPJ) is flexed. (Fig. 3)
Althoughclaw toes, hammer toes, and mallet toes are technically different,they behave and look similarly, and will be discussed as one problem.
WhatCauses a Claw Toe?
Clawtoes, mallet toes, or hammer toes may be caused by trauma (stubbingyour toe, and producing a fracture or tear of the tendons that straightenor extend the toe). More commonly, the deformity occurs slowly orchronically. Neuromuscular diseases such as cerebral palsy, polio,Charcot Marie Tooth disease, stroke, closed-head injury; or nerveinjury or other rare, neuromuscular problems; can cause imbalancebetween the extensor tendons that straighten the toe and the flexortendons that bend the toes. This tendon imbalance can result ina progressive claw toe deformity.
Inflammatoryconditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout , systemic lupus,enanthematousis, and Reiter's disease may cause inflammation ofthe toe joints (synovitis), and result in stretching or laxity ofjoint ligaments which allows the deformity to develop. People witha high-arch (cavus) type foot may be prone to develop claw toes.
Finally,many people develop claw toes for no known reason (idiopathic -we don't know why).
WhatProblems May Result From Claw Toes?
Clawtoes may be flexible (easily straightened) or rigid, with stiffjoints or tight tendons preventing correction. As seen below, aclaw toe deformity can cause increased pressure or friction on thetip of the toe and over the top of the IP joints, due to rubbingagainst the shoe toe box. When the toe cocks up, the metatarsalbone is pushed downward, resulting in increased pressure under theball of the foot (metatarsalgia). This increased pressure can resultin a thick, painful callus underneath the ball (metatarsophalangealjoint) of that toe. In severe cases of claw toe deformity, shoewear selection obviously can be severely limited.
Treatmentof Claw Toes
Conservativetreatment of claw toes consists of decreasing pressure on the toes.Keeping your skin moisturized is helpful in reducing friction. Aroomy, comfortable shoe, with a spacious rounded toe box made witha soft flexible material, will help to decrease the pressure onthe toes.
Mildclaw toe problems may be helped by silicone, or O-shaped corn padsor toe sleeves. A hammer toe strap might help to pull down and straightena flexible claw toe. Over-the-counter orthotics or custom orthoticdevices will help to decrease pressure on the ball of the foot andrelieve metatarsalgia.
Finally,surgery may be needed to straighten a severe claw toe deformitywhen conservative treatment fails.
Thismaterial does not constitute medical advice. It is intended forinformational purposes only. Foot Menders will not answer medicalquestions via email. Please consult a physician for specific treatmentrecommendations.