If you have problems with your small toes that are causing pressure and pain, surgery should straighten your toes and help make your foot fit more comfortably into a normal shoe.

What problems can happen to the small toes?

The three main problems that can happen are deformity, pain in the toe joints and metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of your foot).

Toe deformities happen when the tendons that move the toes get too tight or out of balance. The affected toe can rub on other toes and on the inside of your shoe, causing pressure and pain.

Inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis can damage the toe joints and this may make them come out of position.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Putting padding between your toes can help to stop pain caused by the toes rubbing.

Using soft shoes from a good-quality shoe shop may be enough. If not, the orthotics department at the hospital will be able to give you advice about insoles or special shoes.

What does the operation involve?

A variety of anaesthetic techniques is possible. The surgery may involve releasing or lengthening tendons, putting joints back into place, straightening a toe, and cutting and realigning the bones of your toes.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots
  • Difficulty passing urine

Specific complications

  • Damage to nerves
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Problems with bone healing
  • Loss of movement in the toes
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the foot (complex regional pain syndrome)
  • Pain in the ball of the foot
  • The deformity coming back

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Small toes surgery 

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This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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The operation and treatment information on this webpage is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by the Horder Centre. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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