Toe Deformity

Toe Deformity

The toe is a part of the foot that helps in movement, walking, running, and providing balance to the body. Toe deformities are common problems associated with different body conditions, such as infections and arthritis. Toe deformity affects not only the configuration or tissues, ligaments, and joints but can also cause issues to other weight-bearing joints like hip joint or knee joints.

There are many substantial causes of toe deformity. It can be inherited (present since birth) or can occur later from wearing fit or tight shoes, fractures, accidents, trauma, or injury. Toe deformity can also occur due to certain diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, osteocalcin, stroke, diabetes. These conditions affect the functioning of muscle and nerve, resulting in different deformities.


The symptoms of toe deformity highly depend on the type of toe deformity and the severity of the condition. Some of the common symptoms include;

  • The sensation of pain while wearing shoes
  • Difficulty in moving toe or foot
  • Change in the shape of the foot
  • Development of corn or calluses over the deformity
  • Areas of hard skin on the foot
  • Swelling and redness on the affected area

Treatment Options

The purpose of therapy is to provide relief from pain and restore the original shape of the toe.

Non-surgical treatment

Initially, conservative treatments are provided to restore walking ability, relieve pain, and delay the development of deformity. Non-surgical treatments include;

  • Orthotics – Specially designed shoes with cushions, pads, and enlarged toe boxes are given to patients to prevent skin breakdown, provide support to the ankle, and correct foot deformities.
  • Metatarsal pads – These are small soft pads that are put on shoe insole. They enhance foot comfort, straighten and realign crooked toes, and restore optimal forefoot pad positing. 
  • Taping – Splints or taps are also used for repositioning of the toes. Toe-tapping will support and protect the toe. It will also prevent it from bending.

Surgical treatment

Surgical intervention is done when conservative treatments fail to provide relief from the pain or cause rigidity or immovability of the toe. 

  • Tendon transfer – In this procedure, the toe is pulled into its correct position. During tendon transfer surgery, a tendon near hammertoe is pulled across the top of the joint, and it not only gives the toe a straight posture but also improves toes appearance and reduces pain.
  • Joint resection – In this operation to straighten the toe, ligaments and tendons are cut. A portion of the bone can also be removed. Temporary pins are inserted to keep the toe in place and are then removed after a few weeks of surgery.

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