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Foot Surgery: Curled Fifth Toe

A curled fifth toe caused by a hammertoe can make walking painful. With hammertoes, one or more toes curl or bend abnormally. This can be caused by an inherited muscle problem, an abnormal bone length, or poor foot mechanics. The affected joints can rub inside shoes. This causes buildups of dead skin called corns.

Curled fifth toe

A curled fifth toe is most often inherited. When the fifth toe curls inward, it moves under the next toe. Then the nail of the curled toe starts to face outward. As a result, you may bear weight on the side of your toe instead of the bottom. This can cause corns and painful nails.

There are many nonsurgical treatments available. But if these are not effective, surgery is an option.

De-rotation arthroplasty

A wedge of skin and a section of bone are removed to help straighten (de-rotate) the toe. You can often bear weight on your foot right after surgery. In some cases, you may need to wear a bandage, splint, and surgical shoe for a few weeks. When healed, the bones become connected with scar tissue.

Top view of curled fifth toe with dotted line showing bone removed for derotation arthroplasty.

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