Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Toe Deformities

How do you treat Toe Deformities?

Self-help and home treatments are the simplest, and often the best method.

lluniad o esgid addas gyda strap ar y top

  • Wear sensible shoes. Shoes that fit poorly, are too worn, or shoes that are simply the wrong style or shape for you place unnecessary pressure on your toes resulting in the formation of painful skin and nail problems.
  • Avoid thin, flat-soled or high-heeled shoes.
  • Avoid a shallow/small toe box.
  • Stay away from pointed shoes with seams over parts of the foot that stick out.
  • Wide-fitting shoes with fastenings are best.

Darn o silicon sy'n ffitio rhwng bysedd traed i leihau rhwbioToe protectors and spacers can help to reduce rubbing to the tops of toes and between toes.

Spacers (pictured top) help to align the toes and give relief from the pressure caused by adjacent toes.

Toe protectors (pictured bottom) are ideally used for toes that cannot be straightened by hand or while you are rehabilitating your toe.

There are several types of protectors and spacers available at your local Chemist or online.

Toe Stretch Exercises

A diagram of the bones in the footLevel One
This is a simple technique that can improve foot pain and toe function, especially when combined with the strength and stretching exercises below. Stretches should not be painful but will be mildly uncomfortable during the stretch.

Your big toe is made up of 2 segments and your smaller toes are made up of 3.  You are likely to gain a better outcome on toes that are mobile, but some improvement can be achieved with most toe deformities.

Find a comfortable sitting position and start to work on straightening one segment at a time –by applying a gentle stretch to the toe. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds and relax. Repeat this 3 times and 3 times per day.

Once you can comfortably straighten 1 segment move onto straightening 2 segments at a time and finally straighten the whole toe.

Level Two

Holding toes with one hand and ankle with another, pulling toes back towards self

Once you are able to straighten the whole toe – hold the deformed toe straight and pull downwards until a stretch is felt on top of the foot– hold for 15 seconds and relax. Then pull the toe upwards until a stretch is felt on the ball of the foot – hold for 15 seconds and relax. Repeat 3 times in each direction 3 times per day.

Finish each group of exercises by pulling up on the toes to feel a stretch under the ball of your foot and the arch and pull downwards to feel a stretch the top of your foot. Hold each stretch for 10-15 seconds and relax. Repeat 3 times.

Photo credit: Bones of foot from DataBase Center for Life Science (DBCLS), CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you have a problem which does not improve as you would expect with self-care, you should contact a healthcare professional for advice. This may be your GP, Pharmacist, NHS Podiatry Service or a Private Podiatrist. 

Please make sure your podiatrist is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council and look out for the letters HCPC after their name. 

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