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Toe Deformities (Small Toes)

Claw toe, hammer toe and mallet toe describe deformities of the smaller toes.

What causes toe deformities?

Deformities can be caused by injuries to the toes and the surrounding tendons or tissues due to:

  • Shoes that don’t fit properly, putting upward pressure on the toes
  • Having a bunion on the big toe (the bunion results in putting more weight on the small toes)
  • Nerve disorders that are present from birth (congenital), including Charcot Marie Tooth disease

What are the signs of toe deformities?

As well as the toes appearing misshapen, the most common signs of deformities are pain and calluses developing where the toes rub on your shoe and on the ball of your foot, which may also stick out more than usual (metatarsalgia). You may also develop patches of hard or rough skin on the toe and ball of your foot. If the problem isn’t treated, the calluses can become infected.

How are toe deformities diagnosed?

During your first appointment, you’ll have an opportunity to discuss your symptoms with Mr Heidari, who will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment. He may also arrange X-rays to examine the length of your bones, and deformities, including bunions.

What does treatment involve?

Not everyone with bone deformities needs to have surgery. It may be possible to straighten your toes by wearing specially designed shoes and relieve pressure using insoles.

If non-surgical treatment doesn’t work, Mr Heidari may suggest carrying out toe fusion surgery to enable the toe to be straight at the end without affecting the flexibility of the rest of your foot.

This information is written as a guide to your treatment but it is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Please contact us for advice if you are worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.