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Sharing the pressure with the ball of the foot and big toe, small toes are essencial in walking.

More Information

Symptoms of lessor toe deformity include: -

  • Metatarsalgia: used to describe any pain in the ball of the foot—the soft, padded part on the bottom of your foot that overlies the metatarsal bones.

  • Bunion: A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the outside edge of the first MTP joint.

  • Turf Toe: Turf toe occurs when the big toe is hyperextended, such as when playing football. More specifically, with turf toe, the MTP joint and surrounding ligaments and tissues are injured, and the joint may even be dislocated.

  • Arthritis: With the inflammatory condition, rheumatoid arthritis, pain in the MTP joint may occur when standing or walking. 

  • Hammer Toe: A hammer toe is a misalignment of the MTP joint, often of the second toe. 

Your GP will examine your foot and may be able to advise you about treatments that can help.

If necessary, they may be able to refer you to a chiropodist (a specialist in foot problems) or orthopaedic surgeon to discuss possible treatments. You can also contact a chiropodist or orthopaedic surgeon directly.

In simple terms, when pressure on small toes becomes too great for the joints to resist or the joints are weak, they may deform.

  • One of the primary causes is the type of shoes worn that may be to tight or have a high heel forcing our toes into the tip of the shoe
  • Injury or arthritis which may cause the joints to become weak
  • Muscles may become unbalanced so that one pulls harder than the other resulting in the toe bending
  • Weak tissue in the lower part of the joint (metatarsophalangeal joint or MTPJ) that allows the toe to drift upwards

Your GP may refer you to a chiropodist to give advice about shoes and insoles or an orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon to examine you and advise you on the best method for straightening your toes. The shape and stiffness of your toes will help decide the surgical proceedure and these may include:

  • The MTP and PIP joints may be freed to allow them to come straight
  • Tendons which curl your toes may be brought up to the top of the toe to help keep it straight
  • Removal of a piece of bone from the MTP, PIP or DIP joint, or more than one, to allow it to come straight
  • Removal of the tip of a mallet toe may shorten the toe and stop it rubbing

The above operations may be held straight with a metal pin inserted into the toe, which is removed later.

Surgical outcomes

Of the operations carried out, over 90% of toe operations successfully correct the deformity. As with all surgical proceedures there are risks:

Recurrence of the deformity

  • Swollen toe - may last for several months, or permanently in a few cases
  • Nerve stretching in the toe can cause tingling, numbness or increased toe sensitivity - this can be permanent, but usually gets better after a few weeks
  • Toe surgery is not easy, however, most people are satisfied with their toe surgery.

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