This unsightly and painful deformity is a contracture - or flexion - of one or two joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth (quite rare) toe. This abnormal flexion can create pressure on the foot when wearing shoes, causing difficulties when putting on shoes. It is often associated with hallux valgus (deformity of the big toe)
What are the clinical signs?
- Pain and/or irritation of the affected toe when wearing shoes.
- The appearance of corns (skin accumulation) on the top, on the side, at the end of the toe, or between two toes. These corns are caused by constant rubbing against the shoe. They can be soft or hard, depending on their location.
- The appearance of calluses (another type of skin buildup) under the toe or under the foot.
What causes claw toes?
- A deformity secondary to hallux valgus: the deviated big toe will take the place of the toes, forcing them to curl up into a claw
- Excessive length of the affected toe (round forefoot and Greek foot), an effect accentuated by wearing shoes that are too short.
- The wearing of too narrow high-heeled shoes, associated with a genetic predisposition.
- Trauma to the muscles or nerves of the leg or foot.
- The hollow foot is often associated with claws.
What are the non-surgical treatments?
A number of non-surgical measures can be taken: Removal of corns and calluses, protection of corns and calluses, change of shoes, orthopedic inserts...
These treatments provide temporary relief but will not treat the mechanical changes in the foot that cause claw toes.
What are the surgical treatments?
When the claw toe has become rigid, surgery becomes necessary to permanently relieve the pain and discomfort caused by the deformity.
Arthrodesis is a technique that consists of straightening the two curled-up phalanges and then welding the small joint. Formerly stabilized by external and visible pins, arthrodesis can now be stabilized by an internal implant.
Arthroplastic resection consists of shortening the toe at the joint in order to release the tension that was curling the toe. It can often be performed percutaneously. This type of surgery is most often performed under local anesthesia (only the leg is put to sleep). The resumption of walking is immediate with special shoes and a simple postoperative protection.