Claw Toes — a condition where toes bend into a claw-like position — is a sign of an underlying medical condition such as diabetes or neurological problems, doctors said. According to the doctors, though claw foot is not painful the patients experience discomfort while walking. As there is no sensation it is ignored. This has even started occurring in young people including in their late 20s.
“Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is one of the leading causes for claw toe in India, especially in women. As foot related problems are also very common among diabetics, every diabetic must have had claw toe at some point of life,” said Pradeep Moonot, an orthopedics at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai. Moonot, who specializes in foot and ankle surgeries, said according to a survey, women in India are affected by claw toes five times more than men.
“Prevalence of claw toes deformity gradually increases with advancing age and up to 20 percent of the Indians are affected. This is observed most often in patients in their 7th or 8th decade of life, however, the age group affected by it is decreasing,” said Moonot. According to him, claw toes are classified based on two types — flexible and rigid — on the mobility of the toe joints. “There are two types — flexible and rigid. In a flexible claw toe, the joint has the ability to move. This type of claw toe can be straightened manually,” said Deepak Kumar, an orthopedics from Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi.
“A rigid claw toe does not have that same ability to move. Movement is very limited and can be extremely painful. This sometimes causes foot movement to become restricted leading to extra stress at the ball-of-the-foot, and possibly causing pain and the development of corns and calluses,” he added. He said that a combination of medical intervention, physiotherapy, and home care can be recommended to treat claw toes, depending on the severity and rigidity of the deformity.
He said that there are cases when surgeries are also required. However, this happens when the deformity is in extreme condition with rigid toes. The bone at the base of the toe is shortened so that more room is available to straighten out. “It is a day care surgery and the patient is walking immediately. After surgery, the toes may take up to four to six weeks to heal,” said Kumar.