I frequently have patients coming into the office concerned about the appearance of their toes. In addition to the look of the toes, patients also have complaints of pain as well. It is actually quite common for toes to transform in shape as we age. Over time, the tendons and ligaments start to tighten and change the overall look of the toes.
The way we walk and the shape of our anatomy is typically inherited from our parents. Walking abnormally is not something we consiously do. It occurs mostly because of our inherited foot type. Certain foot types, for example extremely high arches or flat feet, can lead to deformities in the toes. It is important to have arch supports (orthotics) to prevent these deformities from occurring. The orthotics can slow down the progression if they have already started to change. Arch supports should be custom molded to your foot so that they provide stability. They hold your feet in a correct position and can prevent unnecessary strain to the foot which can in turn cause deformed toes.
I typically do not prefer over the counter arch supports because they are flimsy and do not support your entire body weight. In addition, the majority of them are designed for a “normal” foot type. Most people do not fit into this category so they can end up causing stress on other joints and do more harm than good. Even the ones that claim to “measure” your foot place you in a broad category of that foot type.
If you notice your toes starting to shift or curl, or notice corns on the top of your toes, you should have your feet checked out sooner than later. The condition is easier to treat in the early stages as the toes are still flexible. There are a variety of treatment options including padding/splinting, orthotics, creams, and minor soft tissue procedures. If the deformity becomes rigid, all of the treatment modalities listed above may be used to help alleviate the symptoms, but in some cases surgical correction of the bone is necessary to straighten out the toes.
If this type of surgery is required, it is typically performed in an outpatient facility, which means no overnight stay is needed. Intravenous sedation, or MAC sedation (twilight sleep), is used for anesthesia in place of general anesthesia. The procedure typically takes 30 minutes, depending on the number of digits that need to be corrected. Post operative care consists of dressings and a surgical shoe for a course of 4 to 6 weeks. You are able to walk around during this time, but light activity is preferred to help facilitate the recovery process.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the appearance of your deformed toes, please do not hesitate to give us a call here at Advanced Podiatry. We will get your toes in the right direction!