Toes are the digits in your foot and are associated with walking, providing balance, weight-bearing and other activities. Toe deformities are common problems that occur due to abnormal positioning of the foot bones, inadequate biomechanics, and diseases such as arthritis affecting bones and tissues of the foot. Toe deformities not only affect the alignment of the bones, joints and tissues in the foot, but may also affect alignment of the weight bearing joints such as the hips or knees resulting in further problems. The most common toe deformities are hammertoes, claw toes, and mallet toes.
Initially, toe deformities are treated by conservative treatment measures to restore or maintain walking ability, relieve pain, and also to delay progression of the deformity.
Surgical treatment is recommended if conservative treatment fails to relieve symptoms, or the deformed toes become rigid and immovable. The main objective of the surgery is to restore normal toe alignment and return the foot to normal pain-free function.
The surgical procedure is chosen based on the stability of the deformed toe, whether it is flexible or not. If some flexibility exists in the toe, then the surgeon will make an incision over the deformed toe joint and realign the tendons and ligaments. Pins may be placed to keep the toe in position while healing. The incision is then closed with sutures and covered with a sterile dressing.
In cases where the deformity is rigidly fixed, then the surgeon will make an incision over the joint of the deformity, realign the tendons and ligaments, and also perform an osteotomy, removal of bone pieces. Pins are also inserted to keep the toes aligned while healing. Finally, the incision will be closed with sutures and covered with a sterile dressing.