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Claw Toes

Claw Toes Definition

A claw toe is a toe that is contracted (flexed) at the two joints within the toe (proximal and distial interphalengeal joints). This may occur in any toe but not usually the great toe. Discomfort usually occurs where the toe rubs on the shoe or insole of the shoe. Claw toes are flexible or rigid. When the claw toe deformity has been present for some time the stiff, rigid toe can be very painful especially with movement. Pain at the ball of the foot and callouses are common.


This problem can be caused by arthritis or usually a muscle imbalance in which the stronger flexor muscles overpower the weaker extensor muscles.

Treatment and Prevention

Properly fitting footwear which doesn't rub the affected toes. Forefoot products that straighten and or pad the toes are very helpful. Rigid claw toes may require custom orthotics as well to relieve pain at the ball of the foot, which is common as well.


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