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All about claw foot

claw foot

claw foot

The bending of the toes of the foot in a claw like manner is known as the claw foot. It is also known as the pes clavus or claw toes. In this deformity, the big toe is bent upwards and other toes are bent downwards, making a specific claw like appearance. It may be congenital (existing since birth) or may occur later in life. The cause is unknown is some cases. Usually these are not life threatening cases but do cause a lot of discomfort and low self-esteem due to an atypical appearance of feet. There is a difficulty in wearing shoes and other footwear. Claw foot can also be a sign of some serious underlying disease like stroke or diabetes. Whenever the claw foot is suspected, it should be addressed medically as soon as possible.

What causes the claw foot?

Some of the main causes of claw foot (pes clavus) include:

  • Ankle fractures
  • Congenital abnormality
  • Ankle surgery
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke

Symptoms of pes clavus:

The main and only important symptom of the pes clavus is the typical shape of the feet that resembles the claw, one toe extended and others flexed. Pain and tenderness is usually associated with it. It the claw foot is used, there may also be inflammation or swelling present in the feet due to the uneven loading of feet and irritation. The increased pressure of toes due to deformed shape may also produce ulcers and calluses on the toes.

Does it need medical attention?

In the beginning the toes are not stiff and the stuck of toes in the claw like manner is temporary but with the advancing time, the deformity becomes permanent and the toes remain fixed in a peculiar manner. When this happens, it is necessary to pay a visit to an orthopedic doctor in order to stop this conditioning from further worsening.

How to treat claw foot deformity?

Fortunately many things have been devised in order to correct the abnormal shape of foot. The treatments include the surgical methods and non-surgical methods. Following are the medical tips to get rid of problem:

Non-surgical Methods:

The conventional methods can be helpful in the beginning stages of claw foot. These are non-invasive and more favored methods to treat pes clavus.

  • If the claw foot is in the beginning process, and flexed or extended toes can be moved manually, give them repeated movements so that they don’t get fixed.
  • The tight fitting shoes are bad for feet so change your footwear if you face such problem. Choose the shoes that are wide, roomy, support arch of foot, low heels and don’t put pressure on toes.
  • Using orthotics (shoes inserts) also provide some relief as they keep the feet more comfortable and prevent excessive loading of toes.
  • In case of pain, calluses and inflammation, take the drugs like ibuprofen, aspirin to relieve the symptoms.
  • Look for the underlying disease that may be responsible, treat those medical conditions and claw foot will go away.

Surgical Methods:

Surgical methods include arthrodesis in which a part of joint is removed to free the joint or arthroplasty in which a part of toe bone is removed.

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