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Hammer and Claw Toes

Hammer and claw toes are two examples of common toe deformities. They can lead to excessive pain and make it difficult to find footwear that is comfortable and supportive. People with this condition also experience pain in the toes and the ball of the foot and may develop corns and calluses (hard skin growths on the top of the toe or bottom of the foot). There are several different causes and treatments but often, the best way to deal with the problem is with the use of custom orthotics and extra depth/width footwear

Each of your smaller toes is made up of three bones with joints connecting them. When these joints are bent out of shape, this creates hammer and claw toes. A hammertoe refers to a toe with the first joint bent upward and the middle joint bent downward. A claw toe occurs when the first joint is bent upward and both the middle and end joints are curled downward. In both cases, the knuckle of the toe is raised and rubs against the top of the shoe, causing a lot of discomfort.  

What Causes Hammer and Claw Toes?

In many cases, people develop hammer and claw toes because their shoes are too tight-fitting. When there is not enough space in the front of the shoe, the toes are forced backward and the joints become deformed. Many people have a second toe that is longer than their big toe, and this makes them more likely to develop problems with hammer and claw toes if they wear ill-fitting shoes. 

Other issues with the feet can also lead to hammer and claw toes. For example, people with Bunions tend to have a big toe that angles inwards and puts pressure on the second toe. Claw toes are also very common in people with high arches because it causes an imbalance in the muscles of the toe. Muscle tightness, especially calf tightness can lead to claw toes. Some neurological conditions can also cause hammer and claw toe deformities. 

How To Prevent Hammer and Claw Toes

Finding comfortable footwear that fits correctly is important if you want to prevent hammer and claw toes. If you are concerned about this problem, try to avoid pointy shoes that don’t have much room towards the front of the foot. Look for footwear with extra depth and soft leather uppers with minimal seams or patterning on the top. 

However, if you have high arches or other foot issues like Bunions, it’s important to address those problems so they do not cause hammer and claw toes. 

How Can Hammer and Claw Toes Be Treated?

There are a few ways that custom orthotics and modified footwear can treat hammer and claw toes. Specialist footwear can allow for extra space so the pressure is taken off the toes and they can naturally return to their original position. Gel toe spacers, props and protectors may be helpful to reduce rubbing and friction from other toes or shoes. Specific strengthening and stretching exercises are also recommended.

In situations where high arches, Bunions, and other foot problems are the underlying cause of the hammer and claw toes, custom orthotics are an excellent solution. Using 3D laser scanning tools, or by manually casting we can map your foot shape and design custom inserts to give your foot extra support. This accommodates difficulties with foot shape and can help prevent and manage many foot issues, including hammer and claw toes. 

Get in touch with Healthy Steps today to learn more about how custom orthotics and orthopedic footwear could help you with your foot health.