Common Toe Deformities

The toes are often made to suffer in the name of fashion. High heels, narrow and restrictive toe boxes, and cute pointy shoes may really bring an outfit together, but they could be doing considerable damage to your feet. Toe deformities are frequently caused by footwear, and over time it is likely that your feet will adopt the same pointy shape as your shoes. When that happens, balance can be affected, your feet will look deformed and you could be in considerable pain and require surgical correction.

If your toes are looking a little worse for wear, maybe you have one of the following five common toe deformities starting to develop. Fortunately taking action early can see all of these conditions easily reversed. Do nothing and you could be on the road to future foot pain.

Hammer Toes

Hammer toes are irregularities which cause the toes to become bent over, resembling a claw or a hammer. Hammer toes are most common on the second toe. It is the longest, and the one which I most likely to be restricted by shoes. Hammer toes occur when the toe bends in the middle at the first interphalangeal joint, causing the toe to bend upwards, with the end of the toe curling round.

Hammer toes form sometimes due a structural abnormality in the feet, but more often they are caused by improper footwear. For example, women who wear high heels very frequently diagnosed with this problem. Extra pressure is applied to the toes causing them to deform and distort. There are different toe straightening devices which can be used to cure the condition and a change of footwear may be all that is required to see the deformity correct itself.

Mallet Toes

Mallet toes are similar to hammer toes in appearance, and the two are frequently confused. Mallet toes occur when the last joint of the toe curls around, at the distal interphalangeal joint. Mallet toes are commonly caused by improper footwear too. Mallet toes form gradually, taking time to form. In the beginning they are flexible and can be straightened but if they are not treated they become rigid and even manual manipulation will not straighten them. Mallet toes can occur in any of the lesser toes but the second one is the most likely to be affected.

Claw Toes

There is a flexor tendon called the digitorum brevis which is attached to the middle bone in the toe (medial phalanx). When the tendon is stretched and contracted, it can override all the toe muscles. This condition is called claw toe. This condition pulls the middle joint downwards; therefore the joint which is attached to the middle phalanges rises up giving your toe a claw-like shape. A claw toe affects both interphalangeal joints.The condition is more serious than the above mentioned two, and can see the toe curl underneath the foot. It can also lead to formation of several other conditions like foot ulcers or calluses.


The first joint of the big toe is a common site for a toe deformity. In response to pressure the metatarsal head can move outwards causing a bump on the site of the foot. The body can also lay down new bone adding to the size of the lump. The foot very often gets misshapen with the bone growth and the big toe moves outward at the base, and starts to point towards the others. The bunion sufferer experiences pain, redness and inflammation and the lump can rub against shoes causing broken skin and can easily become infected. Bunions form in response to constant pressure from restrictive shoes, and as bunions form the pressure increases making the deformity grow faster.


A bunionette forms on the exterior of your foot close at the corresponding joint of the small toe. It also commonly called a tailor’s bunion. Misalignment of the head of the fifth metatarsal causes this bump to form on the outside of the foot. In this condition your fifth toe becomes disoriented and moves inwards slanting towards the others. It can make shoes highly uncomfortable to wear. The condition can be treated either with surgery or orthotic footwear or a change of shoes in the early stages of its formation.