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Claw foot

Alternative names

Claw toes


Claw foot is a deformity of the toes in which the toe joint nearest the foot is bent upward (from contracture ) and the other toe joints bend downward (also from contracture ). See also claw hand .


Claw toes can be something that a child is born with (congenital) or can develop as a consequence of disorders (acquired). Claw toes may result from a problem with the (peripheral) nerves in the leg or from a spinal cord problem. Many cases have an unknown cause.

Claw toes in and of themselves are not usually dangerous, but sometimes they are the first symptoms of a more serious disease of the nervous system.

Common Causes

  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • cerebral palsy

Call your health care provider if

This condition can develop in childhood or later in adult life. The condition is not dangerous, but if you think you are developing claw toes you should mention it to the health care provider during a routine visit.

The health care provider will obtain a medical history and perform a physical examination , looking primarily for muscle, nerve, and spine problems.

Medical history questions documenting claw foot in detail may include:

  • time pattern
    • When did you first notice this?
    • Is it getting worse?
  • location
    • Does it affect both feet?
  • other
    • Do other symptoms occur at the same time?

The physical examination will probably include extra attention to the feet (and hands). Claw toes can be treated surgically or special shoes may be recommended to relieve pressure. The abnormal shape of the toe can cause increased pressure and calluses or ulcers on the affected toes.

Update Date: 6/14/2002

Benjamin Roye, Benjamin D. Roye, M.D., M.P.H., Department of Orthopaedics, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT