Toe deformity

What is it?

Toe deformity refers to changes in shape of the lesser toes, usually the second toe. This can take a number of guises, such as hammer toes or claw toes, and in some extreme cases, the second toe joint can even dislocate. 

Why does it occur?

A toe deformity often occurs due to muscle and tendon imbalance within the foot, or to secondary to arthritis. A stretching of the capsule and tissues around the joint allow the deformity to progress. Sometimes there can be no obvious underlying cause.

What are the symptoms?

Visible deformity of the toe becomes increasingly apparent, and lead to in the forefoot. Often patients describe what feels like a painful lump on the ball of their foot, which becomes exacerbated when they walk.  The deformity can also lead to areas of the toe rubbing against footwear, which can cause  secondary calluses.

How is it diagnosed?

Your consultant will take a medical history, and carefully examine your foot, as it is important to rule out any other causes of forefoot pain.  Occasionally, in order to help confirm a diagnosis, ultrasound scans may be required.

How is it treated?

Non-surgical treatments

Adapting your footwear with insoles, or wider fitting and more comfortable shoes, will  often alleviate secondary symptoms such as rubbing and pain when walking. Taking appropriate and regular painkillers will also help.

Surgical treatment

In severe cases, forefoot reconstruction may be considered. This surgery involves realigning elements of the toe, occasionally fusing some of the joints, and fixing the bones in a new position to improve the deformity.

Treatment options

Plantar plate repair

Gait analysis

Foot surgery

Forefoot reconstruction

The One Orthopaedics team specialists

Julie Kohls

Consultant Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon FRCS (Tr & Orth)