Curly toe, is a condition which involves the toe bending down and sideways into a curled shape. It is a common deformity which is typically bilateral and mostly affects the fourth toe. Curly toe, which develops over time, can grow to be uncomfortable when the 4th toe curls under the 3rd. Curly toe should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible to prevent the condition from getting worse.
The direct cause of curly toe isn't always known. It is typically present from a young age and is a result of a rotational deformity at one of the interphalangeal joints of the toe. As the joint bends it the toe curls further inwards cause mechanical problems from underriding its neighbour.
The main characteristic of curly toe is the position of the toes, which are bent and curled to the side.
In some cases, curly toe can cause irritation and pain, and lead to the development of corns, calluses and ulcers, when the foot rubs against shoes.
Non-surgical treatment options for curly toe can be considered. These can include the taping of the toes or the wearing of a splint, in order to hold the toes in the correct position.
You might also be advised to avoid wearing certain shoes, and be offered alternatives which offer more space, especially in the toe box area, in order to negate the problem of rubbing. In general, tight shoes such as high heels are advised against. Pads can be used to take reduce the pressure on the ball of the foot, and to redistribute the weight around the foot more evenly.
In many cases, particularly when individuals have a large degree of flexibility in their toes, the changes and steps outlined above can lead to the relief of curly toe symptoms.
In cases where these treatments have proven ineffective, your doctor may advise you to consider surgical treatments. Surgical procedures for curly toe involve straightening the toe by fusing the deformed joint straight. A small incision is made over the top of the joint, the joint surfaces are flattened and prepared and a small wire is inserted across them to hold everything straight while it heals. The wire is gently removed in clinic after 6 weeks. Recovery from this type of surgery takes no longer than six to eight weeks in general but a little swelling can persist for longer which is nothing to be concerned about as it will resolve in time.
As with all foot surgery it is normal for swelling to persist for some months after surgery and is completely normal. This swelling will eventually completely subside with time and can take up to 12 months but often goes well before this.