Defeat Claw Toe Pain
The word claw is used in many arenas – from nature talks to tool demonstrations – but it always implies one thing: having curved, sometimes sharp, ends. From eagle claws, to a claw hammer, to the paws on the family cat, claws are used as tools to pierce, lift, and grab. However, when your toes end up curved at the end, they are not useful tools but painful abnormalities. Claw toes can end up causing a problem with every step you take.
What Causes Claw Toes
You have muscles and tendons in your toes that work to pull them up and down. If your toes are cramped by shoes that are too tight, they are held in abnormal positions for long periods of time and the muscles and tendons can lose their function. Those on the top may become weak, or those underneath become shortened, and you end up being unable to stretch your toes out flat. When they remain in a curled up position at both the middle and end joints, they are called claw toes. Less common causes for this condition include inherited foot structures; diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or alcoholism; nerve damage or poor circulation; prolonged bed rest; or injuries.
How Are They Diagnosed
Your own observations will be the first step. You may notice that your toes look funny, and you have trouble straightening them out. This is the time to contact The Plateau Foot and Ankle Clinic, before they go on to develop corns, calluses, or become painful when walking. The earlier they are diagnosed, the easier it will be to treat them and prevent further problems. We will examine your toes and ask questions about when you notice the symptoms. If the problem is severe, we may use X-rays to see if surgery may be required.
Treatments for Claw Toe
The most important treatment is up to you: getting the right shoes. You need footwear with plenty of room to straighten out your toes and with enough cushioning to not irritate the joints. If corns or calluses have already formed, moleskin or special cushioning pads may help to relieve the pain. We can prescribe the proper type of pain reliever for your particular situation as well. We can also show you how to tape the toes, or use a sling or splint, to straighten them. Orthotics could be helpful too. These remedies do not address the underlying problem, but they may give you enough relief to go about your activities normally.
We may give you exercises and stretches to increase the strength and flexibility of your toe muscles and tendons. This may help your toes straighten out and relieve your symptoms. If all of these conservative treatments don’t bring relief, surgery may be an option. Any surgery is always a serious step, so we will discuss the possibilities, risks, and possible outcomes with you and help you make a wise decision.
Where to Get Help
Dr. Howard Schaengold has provided expert foot care in the Sammamish, Issaquah, Redmond, and Bellevue areas for over 20 years. Contact The Plateau Foot and Ankle Clinic at (425) 868-3338, and let him put that expertise to work for you. You can also request an appointment on our website. You don’t have to live with constant foot pain that limits your activity. Call us today!