Tight fitting shoes that squeeze your feet are the most common cause for toes curling and digging into the sole of the shoe. Alcoholism, diabetes, trauma, and excessive inflammation also are culprits that may trigger the condition of claw toe. Alcoholism and diabetes can cause nerve damage that weakens the muscles of the foot, causing claw toe. Certain neurological conditions can also cause weaken the foot muscles and these need to be ruled out with specific tests. Symptoms of claw toe include:
- Toes that bend upward
- Toes that bend downward
- Toes that curl under the foot
- Calluses or corns
When symptoms of claw toe first appear the toes are still flexible and the use of tape or a splint may correct the position of the toes. Properly fitted shoes with a deep toe box are recommended. Specific stretching and strengthening often form the cornerstone of the treatment plan outlined by your podiatrist. Prescription orthoses may be used to decrease pressure and reduce biomechanical factors. Toes become rigid during the later stages of claw toe and medical grade footwear is often indicated. Only as a very last resort should you consider surgery. Claw toes are often associated with bunions and other alignment problems.