Poorly-fitting shoes aren't just uncomfortable; they can lead to deformities in your feet. If you wear shoes that put pressure on your toes, like high heels or shoes that are too short, your toes could become permanently bent, or "clawed." The resulting deformity is known as claw toes; here are four things you need to know about it.
What are the signs of claw toes?
If you have claw toes, you'll notice that some or all of your toes are bent downwards. This leads to pain when standing or walking. You may also develop calluses at the end of your affected toes.
Claw toes can be flexible, meaning that you can straighten out the joint if you try, or rigid, meaning that the joint is fixed in place. Both types of claw toes are a concern and should be evaluated by a podiatrist.
How do poorly-fitting shoes cause this deformity?
If you wear shoes that force your toes into a bent position, like high-heeled shoes or shoes that are too small for you, your toes will eventually stick in that position. This happens because the ligaments and tendons in your toes get used to being held in that position and become tight. This tightness makes it hard or impossible for you to straighten your toes.
Can podiatrists treat claw toes?
There are many treatments available for claw toes, both non-surgical and surgical. If your claw toes are still flexible, your podiatrist may be able to straighten them with splints. Splints are firm devices that hold your toe in the proper position and keep it from bending. Your podiatrist may also recommend toe crests, cushioned pads that are placed beneath the affected toes to prevent pain.
If your claw toes are rigid, you may need to have surgery. If you need surgery, your tight tendons will be loosened to allow your toes to straighten. Pins may be placed inside your toes to hold them in the proper position while your tendons heal; your podiatrist will remove these four to six weeks after your surgery.
Are claw toes common?
Claw toes are a common problem and affect between 2% and 20% of the population. This condition gets more common as people age and tends to be seen more in people who are in their seventies and eighties, though younger people can also be affected.
Claw toes affect women between four and five times more often than men. This may be because of different footwear choices such as high-heeled shoes.
If your toes are bent and causing you discomfort, make an appointment with a podiatrist like Foot & Ankle Care Center PA to discuss claw toes.Share
2 September 2015
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