Why is my child’s toe curled?

Warm weather is upon us and soon your children will be running barefoot through the green grass here in Kansas City.

curly toes

Have you noticed your child’s toes looking a little different? Possibly curling under or overlapping? This condition is called “Curly Toes” and is a common occurrence in the pediatric population.  It is where one or more of the toes curl under itself, like a hammertoe. The toes push into or overlap/underlap the toes next to them. Often this ailment is hereditary and one or both of the child’s parents have the condition. This disorder can happen to any of the toes, although the fourth toe (one closest to the little toe) is the toe that develops it the most.  It is rare that children outgrow these toe deformities, although it has been reported to spontaneously resolve in a few cases.

noticed your child’s toes looking a little different? Possibly curling under or overlapping? This condition is called “Curly Toes” and is a common occurrence in the pediatric population.  It is where one or more of the toes curl under itself, like a hammertoe. The toes push into or overlap/underlap the toes next to them. Often this ailment is hereditary and one or both of the child’s parents have the condition. This disorder can happen to any of the toes, although the fourth toe (one closest to the little toe) is the toe that develops it the most.  It is rare that children outgrow these toe deformities, although it has been reported to spontaneously resolve in a few cases.

Problems that can occur as a result of this abnormally curled toe position include:

  • painful corns
  • blisters and pressure sores
  • toe pain
  • trauma to the nail

Often, the toes are not painful, and the complaints are more due to their appearance. Treatment for a curly toe can be simply to improve any discomfort or may necessitate surgically correcting the deformity.  It is not possible to permanently de-rotate the toe back to a normal position with physical therapy or splinting.

Therefore, it is important to have the toes examined by a foot specialist to see if we can keep your child comfortable with certain types of padding or splinting, or whether surgery may be necessary.  Usually, the toes will get stiffer with time, which may require a more extensive surgical procedure if not corrected early.  The degree of the deformity, age of the patient, and symptoms are all taken into account when determining the best treatment.

If you are concerned, or if your child complains of pain to their toes, bring them in to see Dr. Green or Dr. Jameson as soon as possible. Early detection is key and the podiatrists at Kansas City Foot & Ankle are very experienced in treating curly toes.