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Hammer Time! The difference between Hammer Toes and Claw Toes

Do you find it difficult to stretch out or straighten one or more of your toes? Are your foot modelling dreams slipping away because your toes are looking a lot less like Katy Perry’s and more like your Nan’s? You may have Hammer Toes or Claw Toes my friend, let’s talk about it.

As Podiatrists, we have seen it all when it comes to feet. Every now and then, a sheepish New Patient is quick to blurt out “I’m sorry, my feet are awful!”. First of all, I’d like to point out that we are not here to judge or make comment on our patients’ feet, we are simply here to help them look and feel better, and improve their movement and function.

Quite often, patients’ insecurities lie in the appearance of their toes, most commonly Hammer Toes or Claw Toes. This is what we will be discussing today.

Anatomy 101

With the exception of your big toe, all our toes have two joints - neat huh? Our toes provide balance and support when we are walking, maintaining contact with the ground for a whopping 75% of the time.

Hammer Toes

A Hammer Toe occurs when the middle (PIP) joint of the toes becomes flexed or bent downwards.

Common causes of Hammer Toes

  • Injury: a traumatic toe injury
  • Arthritis: usually Osteoarthritis
  • Footwear: wearing shoes that don’t fit properly
  • Tendons: tight, imbalanced tendons in the foot
  • Bunions: pressure from a bunion pushing the 2nd toe out the way
  • Cavus foot: a high arch foot can be prone to developing Hammer Toes

Claw Toes

A Claw Toe is a toe that is contracted at the PIP and DIP joints - the middle and end joints in the toe. They can occur in any toe except the big toe.

Common causes of Claw Toes

Most people think that Claw Toes are solely caused by wearing high heels or tight, ill fitting shoes. However, Claw Toes can often be the result of nerve damage, caused by diseases such as diabetes or alcoholism.

Nerve damage in the feet can weaken the small intrinsic muscles in your foot, causing you to “claw” or dig down into the soles of your shoe. This action can create painful corns or calluses. Ouch.

Claw toes get worse without treatment and may become a permanent deformity over time (just like poor Nanna’s feet.. don’t be like your Nan). If you think this is you, book an appointment today to get your feet assessed.

How we can help

  • Footwear: let us help you find and fit the right shoe for your foot. Inappropriate footwear is the most common cause of toe deformities. We measure both the length and width of your feet to ensure the best fit
  • Corns/Calluses: we can treat painful corns or callus that develop due to Hammer/Claw Toes. Regular routine care with one of our Podiatrists will keep you comfortable and reduce the risk of further complications
  • Custom orthotics: we can perform a comprehensive Biomechanical Assessment to see if your toe deformities are caused by your foot function. We will then be able to fabricate custom orthotics for your shoes to improve your gait
  • Protective sleeves: we stock a range of cushioning sleeves and devices to help keep you comfortable between visits

Well that’s a wrap! Be kind to one another and look after your feet.

- by Kim, the Podiatrist


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Footpoint Podiatry is a specialty podiatry and orthotic practice that has been servicing the Sunshine Coast since 1995. We strive to provide our patients with superior podiatry services by diagnosing, preventing and treating conditions of the foot and lower limb. Our aim is to achieve optimal foot health and provide quality service.

 

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