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Hammer and Claw Toes

Hammer and Claw Toes have the appearance of toes being bent into a position that causes them to be painful and irritated in closed shoes, as well as, altering their appearance that can be of cosmetic concern. They mostly affect the four smaller toes.Hammer toes are the result of the middle toe joint bending or curling towards the floor rather than pointing straight. Hammer toes can be present at birth however they normally develop over time. They can be the result of genetics, arthritis or ill-fitting footwear (tight and pointed heels), high arches, toe injury, pressure from a bunion or tightened ligaments or tendons.

Claw toes affect the four small toes at the same time, bending up at the joint where the toes and foot meet and down at the middle joint, causing the toes to curl down towards the ground. Claw toes can create painful calluses and may get worse without treatment. Claw toe may be the result of local nerve damage which causes the muscles in the foot to weaken. This can get worse over time without treatment.

Tight shoes are most often the culprit for both hammer and claw toes. Repeatedly wearing tight shoes, especially if wore for a long period of time or while walking long distances, forces the toes into unnatural bent positions inside the shoe. The more severe the exposure to the unnatural position, the more severe the bend or curl will be. Over time, the unnatural position will become frozen and unable to be fixed. The toes will get stuck in painful positions. The tendons that normally would help them straighten out have will also have become unnaturally shortened or damaged.

Although uncommon, some medical conditions may cause hammer and claw toes. These conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, certain neurological conditions, diabetes, stroke, and foot or ankle injuries.

If you are concerned about Hammer or Claw Toe please see a Podiatric specialist who can advise regarding its management and perform surgical realignment and correction via the specialised toe surgery techniques.

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