Want to learn how to fix curled toes long-term?
We’re about to show you the best 5 treatments for curled toes — and one stands far above the rest. (Pun intended.)
Before we dig in, it’s important to understand the causes of curled toes so that you can choose the best treatment for you.
Causes for Curled Toes
Curled toe, or claw toe, is a symptom of spasticity in your feet and toes. It’s the result of miscommunication between your brain and your muscles.
The muscles in your foot are over-contracting – often due to the neurological impact of stroke – and this causes your toes to curl when you don’t want them to.
Curled toes can occur at unpredictable stages, ranging anywhere from a few months to several years post stroke.
Curled toes can make walking painful, and there are a few treatment options that you can consider to help alleviate this condition.
Treatment for Curled Toes
From least invasive to most, these treatment options can help fix curled toes.
1. Rehab Exercises for Curled Toes
Therapeutic exercise for curled toes is the most noninvasive and effective treatments available!
Rehab exercises retrain the brain to control the muscles in your feet that are causing the spasticity.
The more you exercise the muscles, the more control you will regain, and eventually your brain will regain enough control to say, “Relax!”
Add some daily exercises for curled toes to your home exercise regimen.
Bonus: Download our free Stroke Rehab Exercises ebook. (Link will open a pop-up that will not interrupt your reading.)
2. Botox for Curled Toes
Botox is the only FDA-approved treatment for upper limb spasticity after stroke.
However, many survivors seen improvement in their curled toes with Botox, so talk to your doctor about this option.
Botox is only a temporary treatment, though. Relief only lasts for a few months, so it’s best to use Botox as temporary relief while you see long-term relief through rehab exercise!
3. Ankle Foot Orthotics or Toe Separators
While you work on reducing curled toes through rehab exercise, you may want a short-term solution to improve your gait (manner of walking).
Toe separators or shoe inserts called ankle foot orthotics can help realign curling toes in the meantime.
For curled toes, you should look for AFO’s that have built in toe crests and metatarsal pads. This will help reduce pain and increase comfort.
If your budget is limited, then minimalist toe separators can suffice.
(AFO’s can also be used for foot drop, a condition where you can’t properly lift the front part of your foot.)
4. TENS Therapy
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation therapy (i.e. TENS therapy) involves electrical stimulation to your nerves and muscles.
TENS therapy works by making you more aware of the subtle muscle contractions in your affected limbs.
It works best in conjunction with rehab exercises.
In extremely painful cases, you can have surgery to cut the tightened tendons in your feet to relieve curled toes.
This is the last resort though, as the surgery is irreversible.
Tips for Living with Curled Toes
Sometimes TENS therapy and Botox aren’t an option (or they don’t work), and AFO’s can take a couple months to get made.
Here’s what you can do in the meantime:
- Stretch your toes to keep the tendons as lengthened as you can. Avoid this if it’s too painful, but once those tendons shorten, it’s hard to reverse.
- Try some toe separators when you’re at home. Yes, the cheap foam beauty salon tools that you use to keep your toes separated while manicuring. Using toe separators can help reduce the pain of curled toes.
- Use toe cushions in your shoes when you’re out and about. Toe cushions are like little pillows for your toes that comfortably go inside your shoes and reduce the pain.
- Get a pair of magnetic gel insoles. They helped stroke survivor James Pribish reduce his curled toes. You can also cut the gel insoles up to protect your toes from painfully rubbing around in your shoes.
And when all else fails, it’s possible that curled toes can go away on their own in time.
And there you have it! These are the best ways to fix curled toes.