You never realize how much you use your feet until they’re hurting. While it’s a lesser know source of foot pain, toe injuries and deformities can be very painful and can greatly impact a sufferer’s quality of life.
In many cases, research shows that feet and ankle issues can be easily corrected non-surgically with early intervention and simple treatments. Sometimes, the solution is as simple as wearing more comfortable shoes. If surgery is necessary, foot and ankle surgeons can use the most recent advances in arthroscopic and minimally-invasive surgeries to help get patients back on their feet as quickly and efficiently as possible.
However, in order to get the appropriate treatment, early assessment and treatment by an orthopaedic surgeon is important. By delaying an appointment with a specialist, a minor toe condition may lead to further, more complicated issues such as skin infections, deformities, and muscular problems.
Lesser toes (the toes excluding the big toe) are important in walking, especially when pushing off with the foot towards the next step, bearing the majority of the weighted pressure in support of the big toe and the ball of the foot. A variety of conditions can lead to lesser toe deformities, including:
- Improper footwear, such as shoes with pointed toes or tight toe-boxes
- Inflammatory arthritis
- Neuromuscular and metabolic diseases, such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis
Diabetic patients with neuropathy are particularly at risk for foot problems and may not notice when a toe has become painful. They, and others with reduced sensation in their extremities, should be especially aware of any injury or changes in their toes.
The most common toe deformities include conditions like hammer toes, claw toes, mallet toes, curly toes, crossover toes, and bunions, in which misaligned toes make normal walking painful. Symptoms, in addition to pain, also include redness, swelling, and sores or calluses where the bent toe rubs against the inside of a shoe.
Lesser toe deformities can often be treated nonsurgically with pads or inserts designed to reduce pressure on the toe joint; or wraps, tape, or shoe inserts designed to guide the toes into a proper alignment. When necessary surgery may involve reconstruction of the soft tissues, bones, or a combination of both.
According to While some causes of lesser toe deformities are not preventable, one of the most common causes is footwear. Shoes that don’t fit well are responsible for many toe deformities as well as other foot problems. The most important step the public can take in avoiding toe conditions and deformities is to be aware of what is on their feet. Avoiding shoes that pinch your feet and constrict your toes may help you prevent toe deformities.