How to Prevent or Manage Clawtoe Complications

It might be tempting to blame the development of clawtoe on ill-fitting footwear, but the reality is that clawtoe can develop even if you never wear high heels or narrow footwear. Left untreated, clawtoe can cause painful corns and calluses as your toes rub against your shoes.

Here at Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Consultants of New York, Dr. Cary Chapman knows that any foot condition, including clawtoe, can quickly diminish your quality of life and keep you from your active lifestyle. If your toes hurt or are starting to develop the tell-tale claw-like curve, we recommend that you come visit us. 

In the meantime, here are a few tips to help manage compilations of clawtoe.

What is clawtoe?

Clawtoe, which is sometimes called claw foot, occurs when your first toe joint points up and your second toe joint points down. This can make your foot resemble a claw, hence the name. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, nerve damage (including nerve damage as a result of diabetes) can cause clawtoe.

Left untreated, the claw shape can become permanent over time, causing discomfort and painful calluses. How you manage these complications depends on the stage of the condition you are.

Tips to manage clawtoe during the early stages

During the early stages of clawtoe, your toes might still be flexible. To manage and prevent clawtoe complications during this stage, consider these tips:

Shoe tips: Choose shoes with a flexible, roomy toe box. Avoid ill-fitting shoes, tight shoes, and stilettos.

Tips to manage clawtoe during the later stages

Unlike during the earliest stages of clawtoe, you might notice that your feet become less and less flexible as the condition progresses. This can cause painful calluses and discomfort. To manage these complications, you might consider adding a custom cushion or pad to your shoes. This helps to relieve the pressure on the ball of your foot. 

Shoe tips: Shoes with a roomy toe box are non-negotiable if you have advanced clawtoe. Look for special shoes with an extra 3/8" depth in the toe box. Shoe repair shops may be able to stretch your shoes even more to accommodate your toes. 

What to do if conservative treatments aren’t working

Although wearing comfortable, appropriately sized shoes is an important part of clawtoe management, sometimes it just isn’t enough. If conservative treatments like taping your feet don’t provide enough relief, you aren’t out of options. Surgery to release the tension in your tendons may improve your toe’s ability to straighten out. According to the experts at the University of Michigan, clawtoe surgery isn’t limited to tendons. Depending on your needs, surgery on your bones (e.g., your metatarsal) can also help provide relief.

Whether you’re just now noticing the early signs of clawtoe, or you've already been dealing with it, we can help you get the relief you need. Call 718-987-3338 to book an appointment at our office in Staten Island or on Fifth Avenue in New York City. You can also book appointments via our website. 

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