If you have problems with your small toes that are causing pressure and pain, surgery can 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:

  1. Deformity
  2. Pain in the toe joints
  3. 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.

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What does the operation involve?

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.

A variety of anaesthetic techniques is possible.

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 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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Information leaflet

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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Acknowledgements
Stephen Milner (DM FRCS (Tr. & Orth.))
Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com
Copyright EIDO Systems International © 2000-2021 
The operation and treatment information on this webpage is produced using information from EIDO Systems International and is licensed by Horder Healthcare. The information should not replace the advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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