Claw toes

What are clawed toes?

The lesser toes may become bent or “clawed”. This can lead to pressure on the toes. This may lead to pain under the balls of the feet, areas of hard skin or in extreme cases ulcers on the toes.

What are the non- surgical treatments available for clawed toes?

Mild deformity may respond to strapping. Corn pads may help areas of hard skin. Shoes may be made wider in order to reduce pressure on the toes.

What are the surgical treatments available for clawed toes?

If non-surgical treatment does not work then surgery may be considered. The aims of surgery are to straighten the toe. Surgery may be performed under local or regional anaesthesia. In most cases, surgery can be performed as a day case procedure.

What does surgery entail?

The exact surgery will depend on the type of deformity to the toe. If the deformity is “flexible” the surgeon may lengthen or cut tendons that are pulling too hard on the toe. If the deformity is “rigid” your surgeon may either fuse or remove part of a toe joint to make the toe straight again. In some cases the toe will then be held in place with a wire which will be removed in clinic several weeks after surgery.

What can I expect after surgery?

This will depend on the exact procedure performed by your surgeon. In most cases you will be in a bulky bandage and will be able to walk in a stiff soled surgical show. If a wire was used to hold the toe straight then this will be removed at 4 – 6 weeks in the outpatient clinic. Removing the wires is not normally painful.

It is important to keep your foot elevated as much as possible. This will reduce the swelling after surgery. Foot surgery can be painful in the first few weeks, so try to take painkillers prescribed by your surgeon. Keep your dressing clean and dry until you are seen in the outpatient clinic. If your surgeon uses stitches that need to be removed, they will be taken out at your clinic appointment 2 weeks following surgery.

What are the risks of this surgery?

All surgery involves risks, and some are potentially very serious. Your surgeon will discuss the exact risks of the operation with you during the consent process before surgery.

Some common or serious risks are:




Painful scar


Blood clots

Residual deformity or recurrence

Need for further or repeat surgery

Risks of the anasthetic