A curly toe is a deformity involving the little toe, and often the toe next to it, also known as the 5th and 4th toes. In this deformity, the toes are rotated inward towards the toe next to them, and are usually crooked at the fist joint in the toe as well (a deformity called a hammertoe). The result of this inward rotation is that the side of the toe becomes more prominent on the ground rather than the bottom of the toe, and a long corn often forms on the side of the toe as a result of the increased pressure.
When the corn forms on the little toe, it often forms closely to the side of the nail, and can mimic the symptoms of an ingrown toenail.
Another problem that develops from this deformity is irritation of the crooked toe's skin by the nail of the normal toe next to it. When the nail gets long, the corner edge can irritate the skin of the rotated toe next to it. This can result in a simple skin abrasion, and sometimes even a cut in the skin of the toe.
Treatment for a curly toe revolves around either improving comfort or actually correcting the deformity. There is no good way to artificially re-rotate the toe back into a normal position, so measures to improve the comfort have to simply include padding to cover the side of the toe. Pads can be made out of elastic material with gel, or can be adhesive felt or foam. Wider, deeper shoes can also decrease pressure to the outer side of the toe. To correct the deformity permanently, surgery is needed to fix any underlying contracture (such as a hammertoe), as well as the rotation itself. A special incision technique allows the surgeon to rotate the toe back into a relatively straightened position without kinking the small blood vessels and nerves on the sides of the toes. Recovery usually takes 2-3 weeks, and one can usually bear full weight on the toe during recovery.
The podiatrists at Indiana Podiatry Group are experienced in treating curly toes.