Home Health The Claw Toe Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

The Claw Toe Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

The Claw Toe: Today we will talk about one of the most common deformities in women who wear bad shoes, especially high-heeled shoes.

The Claw Toe
The Claw Toe

You have to differentiate between two types of claw toe :

  • Flexible claw: it is one in which manipulating the finger can achieve its extension.
  • Rigid claw: is one in which we can not correct the deformity by extending the finger.

What is a claw toe?

It is a deformity of the lower fingers of the foot, which consists of excessive flexion of the proximal and distal joints of the fingers (articulation of the second, third, fourth and fifth fingers).

What are your causes?

The Claw Toe
The Claw Toe

The most frequent cause of claw toes is a muscular and/or tendinous imbalance. This imbalance, which leads to flexion of the toe, is due to mechanical (structural) changes of the foot. Thus, non-surgical solutions may provide relief, but will not address the cause of the deformations.

Claw toes are often aggravated by the use of shoes that do not conform to the shape of the foot, for example, shoes that crush the toes at the tip of the foot. In certain cases, the badly adapted shoes can even be the cause of the contracture responsible for the appearance of clawed fingers. For example, a claw toe may develop if the toe is too long and is flexed in a shoe too narrow and used very often.

Sometimes, the claw toe may also be due to trauma, for example, a finger that has suffered a fracture. Finally, in certain subjects the claw toes are hereditary.


The symptoms of claw toes produce:

  • Pain and/or irritation of the affected finger when wearing shoes.
  • The appearance of calluses (accumulation of skin) on the upper part, on the side, on the end of the finger, or between two fingers. These calluses are caused by continuous rubbing against the shoe. They can be soft or hard, depending on their location.
  • The appearance of hardness (another type of skin accumulation) under the finger or under the foot.

Calluses and hardness can be painful and make it hard to find comfortable shoes. Even in the absence of calluses or hardness, a claw toe can be painful because the joint itself is affected.


The Claw Toe
The Claw Toe

Claw toes are usually light deformations, but they become progressively worse over time. In the early stages, the claw toes are flexible and the symptoms can usually be treated by non-surgical treatments.

But if they are not treated, the deformations can become stiffer and then you have to resort to surgical intervention. Calluses tend to worsen over time and do not really disappear, even after the operation. In the most severe cases of claw toes, open wounds may appear at the level of the calluses and become infected.


The podiatrist will be able to affirm in the consultation that it is a case of finger claw when observing the flexion of the finger derived from the extension of the meters-phalangeal joint. In addition, it is recommended to perform an x-ray to know in detail the degree of deviation of the finger.

On the other hand, it is also advisable to make a complete biomechanical study of walking and treading. In this way, in movement, the podiatrist will observe the deformity of the finger and will determine more precisely the degree of the problem.

When is it necessary to resort to surgery? 

In certain cases, generally, when the claw toe becomes rigid, it is necessary to resort to surgery to definitively relieve the pain and discomfort caused by the deformation. Your orthopedic surgeon will study the options and choose an action plan tailored to your needs.

It will take into account the type of footwear you wear, your state of wear, the number of deformed fingers, your level of activity, your age, and the severity of the deformations.

Due to the evolutionary nature of the claw toes, it is advisable to go to the consultation quickly. Without intervention, of whatever kind, the clawed toes cannot be reduced by themselves.

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