There are a number of deformities that affect the lesser toes (the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and little toe). These include hammer, claw and mallet. Progressive in nature, deformed toes can never be repaired without surgical intervention, but can be managed if treated early.
Non-surgical treatments can include changes in footwear and padding to prevent rubbing; while surgery can be completed in under 30 minutes (although the patient will be in surgery for longer), it can take up to eight weeks to recover from if the toes need to have wires inserted.
- Physical deformity of the toe (i.e. bent into odd positions)
- A hammer toe bends downwards at the middle joint, causing the joint to rise up; a claw toe often affects all four lesser toes, with all three toe joints bending to create a claw-like appearance; a mallet toe bends down towards the floor at the joint closest to the tip.
- Pain over the top and on the tip of the two – especially when shoes are worn, as the footwear rubs on the affected toe
- Calluses and corns can build up over time because of friction between the foot and the shoe
- The ball of the foot may also become painful and calloused
Most toe deformities are caused by tight fitting footwear. This incorrectly fitting shoe damages the muscles in the toe, as the digits are bent for too long, causing the muscle to tighten and the tendons to shorten. For this reason, women are often more affected than men.
The most affected toe is the second digit. There is usually a mechanical reason for deformities of this toe, including tight calf muscles, bunions or having an overly long second metatarsal compared to the first.
A progressive problem, deformities can also be the result of other conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, a foot or ankle injury, or a stroke.
Non-surgical treatments can help reduce the impact of toe deformities, but will not cure the problem.
Padding can be worn to protect corns and calluses from further irritation.
Wearing different footwear can make the deformity more comfortable, while an orthotic device may help with the muscle-tendon imbalance. In the early stages, a splint may also help restore the muscle balance.
A cortisone injection may help when pain is acute.
To permanently correct the shape of the toe, surgery is required. Usually a small procedure, surgery is typically completed in less than 30 minutes. It is often possible to walk straight away, although it may take up to eight weeks to fully recover.
Arthroplasty is where a piece of the joint is removed from the toe, allowing it to straighten and be more flexible.
Fusion is where part of the bone (including the joint) is removed. The remaining pieces of bone are held together by a wire while they fuse together.
Find out more about how we can help treat Deformed Toes
To find out more about how we can help treat Deformed Toes or for more information about Total Foot Surgery, contact us on 07449419401 or use our online contact form.