Tight fitting shoes that squeeze your feet are the most common cause for toes curling and digging into the sole of the shoe. Alcoholism, diabetes, trauma, and excessive inflammation also are culprits that may trigger the condition of claw toe. Both alcoholism and diabetes can cause nerve damage that weakens the muscles of the foot, causing claw toe. Performing special tests may be necessary to rule out neurological conditions that can cause weakening of the foot muscles. Symptoms of claw toe include:
Toes that bend upward
Toes that bend downward
Toes that curl under the foot
Calluses or corns
When symptoms of claw toe first appear the toes are still flexible and the use of tape or a splint may correct the position of the toes. Doctors recommend patients stay away from shoes that will cramp feet and opt for shoes with plenty of room in the toe-box. What has proven to be helpful are special toe exercises, like picking up small items with the toes, which can improve the condition or prevent it from worsening. Toes become rigid during the later stages of claw toe and special shoe pads and shoes with “in depth” toe boxes should be worn. Only as a very last resort should you consider surgery.