| Causes and Types of Toe Deformities
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Causes and Types of Toe Deformities

Causes and Types of Toe Deformities

Toe deformities are a common condition. The deformity can be flexible or rigid and can increase with weight-bearing. These deformities often become painful depending on shoes worn. This can make it difficult to choose appropriate shoes.


There are three primary toe deformities including:

  • Hammertoes
  • Clawed toe
  • Mallet toe
  • Adductive Varus Deformity of the 4th or 5th toe


The biggest cause of these deformities is muscle imbalance and instability.

  • Hammertoe can be a flexible or rigid contraction that can affect any of the toes. Often it is caused by larger muscles of the foot and leg overpowering the smaller muscles of the foot. The imbalance causes bending or “buckling” of the toe joints which are very painful. The muscle imbalance sometimes genetic component. High arches or flat feet can cause instability in the foot when walking. Tendons, ligaments, and joint capsules can also tighten and shorten. Shoe irritation of the deformity causes painful corns and skin inflammation, Inability to wear shoes comfortably is also a result. If untreated, these conditions can result in ulcers or infections.
  • A mallet toe is similar to a hammertoe. The joint that is affected in near the end of the toe. The deformity can be flexible or rigid, like hammertoe. The cause is the same as hammertoe. Mallet toe results in painful corn or calluses near or at the tip of the toe. This condition results in excessive friction on top of the toe by shoes and makes it difficult to find proper fitting shoes.
  • Clawed toe is a result of wearing poorly fitting shoes. Shoes that bend the toes and cause them to remain bent for long periods cause the deformity. other causes include trauma to muscles, nerves or the joint that cause an imbalance in musculature
  • .Adductor Varus Deformity 4th or 5th Toe. This deformity is when either the 4th and/or 5th toe rotate. This results in a painful callus on the side of the toe that rubs against closed-toe shoes. Painful corns can also develop between the two toes or at the tips of the toes. Tendons attached to the bottom of 4th and 5th toes pull at an angle causing the toe to rotate.


Some basic treatments that may be helpful for symptoms related to these deformities include:

  • Proper shoes that allow enough room to accommodate toe contractures
  • Regular trimming of painful corns
  • orthotics to control instability and prevent worsening of the deformities.
  • The doctor may suggest crest pad or a Budin splint to hold the toe in proper position


Such toe-deformities are generally due to unsupported motion. Avoiding non-supportive shoes (high heels) and flip-flops can help prevent worsening of the condition. If these measures fail toe surgery is also an option.

Non-operative treatment of these deformities often alleviates pain, until the deformity develops increased pain and stiffness. Surgical treatment of the deformities can correct the deformity and alleviate pain. The deformity can reappear especially if wearing the same deforming shoes.

Foot pain is not normal. If it affects the ability to do activities of daily living or enjoyed activities there is treatment available. The help of a foot specialist can alleviate a great deal of pain.

At Oasis Foot and Ankle Center, specialists are available that can help end your suffering. Our team is committed to helping you. CALL (602) 993-2700 for more information and to schedule an appointment.

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