Claw Toe – Hammer Toe Condition

Claw toe is a deformity of the proximal phalanx and the distal phalanx of the affected toe. The deformities may be fixed or flexible. Pain is present at the top of the proximal phalanx and is a common site of calluses due to rubbing on the top of the shoes toe-box lining. The distal phalanx points downward and can get callus on the tip of the toe and become very painful.

A hammer toe is a flexion deformity of the interphalangeal joint of the affected toe. The deformity may be fixed or flexible. Any toe may be affected, but the second toe is more common. The proximal phalanx points upwards and can hit the top of the shoes toe-box lining. This is very common with bunions and hallux valgus as the big toe angles towards and under the second toe. This forces the second toe into a hammer toe. The top of the toe is a common site of calluses and can be very painful.

Shoes with a low heel and a broad and deep toe box should be worn. Custom orthotics can provide relief if they address bio mechanical concerns and have good transverse metatarsal support. Appropriate stretching exercises should be started as soon as possible. Toe grasping and strengthening exercise should also be done to strengthen the intrinsic musculature of the foot. Heat moldable shoes are available that can be customized for each individual foot. The top of the toe box can be raised over a specific toe if so desired. PTI Orthotics stocks silicone sleeves that slide over the top or tip of the toes. These sleeves are lined with a medical grade silicone gel to absorb shear and friction. The silicone gel is impregnated with a medical grade mineral oil to soften calluses. Ask your health care professional what will work best for you.

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