Claw toe is a condition in which the toes curl into a claw-like position. Though some people are born with claw toe, most people develop it later in life. Typically, the condition isn’t serious, though it can be uncomfortable and eventually lead to painful complications. In some people, claw toe is a sign of an underlying condition such as diabetes. Shoe type, foot structure, and trauma can each contribute to the formation of claw toe.
Though it may seem as though the majority of the foot is solid bone, the skeletal structure of the feet actually resembles the skeletal structure of the hands. The toes consist of the distal, middle, and proximal phalanges and connect to the metatarsal bones that make up the majority of the foot. Claw toe occurs when a proximal phalanx performs dorsiflexion at the metatarsophalangeal joint while performing flexion on the proximal interphalangeal and distal interphalangeal joints. This means that the toe joints closest to the ankle curve upward while the other toe joints bend downward.
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