Toe deformities

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What are toe deformities in the small toes?

Mallet toe, claw toe and hammer toe are all deformities relating to the smaller toes.

What causes toe deformities?

Small toe deformities can be the result of injuries to the toes and neighbouring tissue and tendons caused by:

  • Ill-fitting shoes pushing the toes upwards
  • A bunion on the big toe causing more weight to be put on the small toes
  • Congenital nerve disorders (conditions you are born with), such as Charcot Marie Tooth disease

What are the symptoms of toe deformities?

The toes have a misshapen appearance and painful calluses develop due to friction between your toe and shoe, and also on the ball of your foot, which may protrude abnormally, a condition called metatarsalgia. Patches of hardened/rough skin may develop on the toe and ball of the foot. Left untreated, infection can occur in these calluses.

How are toe deformities diagnosed?

You will be invited to outline your symptoms with your consultant at your initial appointment. Your consultant will guide you to the most appropriate treatment and may also organise X-rays to determine your bones’ length, and further investigate deformities, including bunions.

How are toe deformities treated?

Surgery is by no means necessary for all patients with small toe deformities. Straightening your toes non-surgically using a combination of special medical shoes and pressure-relieving insoles can be enough to solve the problem. However, should this not prove effective, your consultant may recommend you undergo toe fusion surgery to straighten the toe at its end without reducing the foot’s overall flexibility.