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Toe Deformities

Many disorders can affect the joints of the toes, causing pain, deformity and preventing the foot from functioning as it should.

Types Of Toe Deformities

The middle joint is affected, causing the toe to curl downwards.

Both the middle and end joints are affected, causing the toe to curl downwards.

The end joint affected, causing the tip of the toe to curl downwards.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain or discomfort on the top of the toe, where it could be rubbing against the shoe or at the tip of the toe that is pressed against the ground.

  • Increased difficulties to wear shoes.

  • Redness and swelling at the joint contracture.

  • Corns or callouses on the top or end of the toe, or ball of the feet.

  • Cramps in toe.

  • Restricted or painful motion of the toe joint.

  • Joint pain or arthritis pain may be present.

Why do I get such toe deformity?

  • Genetics – foot type and excessively long toes

  • Trauma or injury

  • Weak muscles or muscle imbalance

  • Poorly fitting footwear

  • Other toe deformities such as bunions

  • Arthritis

Is there any self-treatment for mallet toe, hammer toe and claw toe?

  • Apply an over the counter or non-medicated toe pad around the bony prominence of the toe to help decrease pressure on the area.

  • Wear well-fitted shoes with deep toe box.

  • If the toes become inflamed and painful, ice packs can be applied to reduce swelling.

  • Avoid heels with more than two inches tall.

  • Exercise your toes by performing relevant foot exercises.

  • See your podiatrist if pain persists.

What can a podiatrist do to treat the toe deformities? The treatment options vary with the type and severity of each toe deformities. Early detection of the deformity is crucial to avoid surgery. Generally, we can classify the toe deformity as:

Flexible – these are less serious because they can be diagnosed and treated while still in the developmental stage. They are called flexible as they are still moveable at the joint.

Rigid – this variety is more developed and more serious than the flexible condition. Rigid toe deformity is usually painful and can be seen in patients with severe arthritis or in patients who wait too long to seek professional treatment. The tendons in the toe have become tight, and the joint misaligned and immobile, making surgery the usual course of treatment.

In the case while the toe is still flexible, the following treatment can be utilized,

  • Changing the type of shoes worn, your podiatrist can recommend footwear or refer you on to have your shoes modified to accommodate your condition.

  • Managing the corns and callouses secondary to your toe deformity.

  • Splinting or taping to change the imbalance around the toes and thus relieve the stress and pain.

  • Padding the prominence to minimize pain and allow patient to continue a normal, active life.

  • Insoles or orthotics to control foot function, reduce symptoms and prevent the worsening of the toe deformity.

What is the solution if the toe is rigid?

  • surgical correction is the only option for straightening the toe.

Remember that foot pain is not normal and early prevention is always the key to prevent severe foot complications. If you suspect you are developing toe deformities, it is best to see your podiatrist at your earliest convenience.

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