Toe Deformities

Toe deformities can vary greatly. Some toe deformities can negatively impact your child’s quality of life if left untreated. Depending on what kind of deformity your child has, walking can be painful and shoe wear may be difficult. If left untreated, problems with other weight bearing joints such as the knees and hips may occur.

What causes Toe Deformities?

  • Congenital – this means that children are bornwith the deformities
  • Improperly Fitted Shoes – shoes that cause the toes to be abnormally positioned such as high heels 
  • Injury – trauma to the toes such as jamming or fractures to the toes
  • Muscle and Nerve Damage – this can cause muscle and ligaments to tighten leading to deformity

What are common types of Toe Deformities?

Hallux Valgus
Also known as a bunion deformity. The big toe of the foot is called the hallux. When the big toe starts to deviate inwards towards the little toe it is called hallux valgus. A bunion can form at the base of the big toe, which can often times be very painful. This is most likely associated with tight, improperly fitted shoe wear and more commonly affects females. Most bunions can be treated conservatively with wide based shoes to give more room so there is less pressure. If the bunion causes persistent pain and difficulty walking, surgery may be needed. Surgery will realign the bones, tendons, and ligaments into the proper position.

Claw Toe
The toe is bent down, digging or “clawing” into the bottom of the shoe. Although most people tend to believe this is related to improper shoe wear, this disorder is most likely associated with nerve damage, such as Charcot Marie Tooth Syndrome. Corns or callous may develop over the ball of the foot or the top of the toe. If the claw toe is flexible, wearing soft and spacious shoes can help along with stretching exercises. If the claw toe becomes more fixed and rigid, surgical correction may be required.

Curly Toes
This is usually congenital or presentat birth. The toes that are typically affected are the small toes on the outside of the foot. The toe can be curling either towards the inside of the foot or to the outside. This is caused by a contracture of tendons that flex the toe. In most cases, the curly toe does not cause any pain or discomfort. Surgical correction is not typically recommended as the deformity tends to improve spontaneously.

Overlapping Fifth Toe
This deformity tends to be congenital or present at birth. The smallest toe on the outside of the foot overlies the toe next to it. The cause of the deformity is not known, but is noted to run in families. Performing stretching exercise and buddy taping the toe can help the deformity, but it may return soon after. Surgery is rarely recommended, but if the toe causes persistent pain and problems with shoe wear, surgery may help correct the deformity.