About 20-30% of those born with a turned fifth toe have it on both feet. It affects both males and females. Different types of curled pinky toes include curly toes, hammer toes, tailor’s bunion, and overlapping pinky toes. A turned pinky toe primarily results from genetics, but other causes could be trauma or injury, ill-fitting footwear, Obesity, and arthritis. Conservative treatment options for the disorder include toe taping, toe spacing, shoe inserts, and lifestyle modifications. In some severe cases, invasive techniques like Botox and surgery could be your best and last options.
During summer, we say hello to our feet’s best friends-flip flops!
Some people become very conscious when wearing flip-flops more often because their feet are exposed to the world.
Why so? Letting people see it in the open can be very uncomfortable if you have a curled or turned pinky toe.
While it’s something, you shouldn’t be ashamed of. I understand it’s a big deal for some of you, especially when talking about confidence.
So, will people make it a laughing matter and an issue for you? Trust me. You shouldn’t even be a subject of that!
Your pinky toe is just as pretty as other parts of your body, even if it’s crooked or turned sideways.
Table of Contents
Types of turned pinky toes
1. Curly toe or adductovarus toe
This deformity appears when the tiny toe bends into the foot, and the whole toe bends down at every joint. The toe underlaps and curls up into itself. It looks like the toe is hidden down and inwards.
2. Tailor’s bunion
Also called bunionette deformity, it is a toe abnormality that causes the little toe to turn outwards. It also forms a bump on the outside of the toe. It is caused by friction on the bony projection of the pinky toe, mainly due to constrictive shoes.
3. Hammer toe
The hammer toe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of the last toe. It occurs when the ligaments and soft tissue of the toe become tight due to imbalances of the structures around the joint. The tightness around the joint can sometimes fold the toe inside and inward.
4. Overlapping toe
An overlapping pinky toe is sometimes inherited. It may result from compression of the toes inside the womb before birth. Along with the overlapping toe, its position may look like it rotated sideways.
25% of babies born with overlapping pinky toes spontaneously recover without treatment. Spontaneous recovery is when a deformity resolves itself over time and may take months to occur.
Should you worry about your pinky toe?
Our body weight mainly lies on the base of the big toe and the heel. The weight is on the medial (inner) side of our foot. So, since the pinky has so little load to bear, you shouldn’t worry too much if it gets turned sideways. It may cause difficulties but will not affect your overall health.
Complications of untreated turned pinky toes can be:
- Pain or inflammation
- Permanently shortened or turned toes
- Rigidity and no movement in the toe
You must consult your doctor immediately if you notice deformities in your toes, such as your pinky turning sideways.
Causes for pinky toe turning sideways
The stability of the pinky toe mainly depends on the joints surrounding it. The metatarsophalangeal joint (joint between your toes and the entire foot) is the main joint that controls all of the toes, including your pinky.
It’s crucial to understand the underlying cause of your toe deformity. The best way to do this is to consult your doctor so you talk with them about getting treatment.
Below are common causes of a pinky toe turning sideways:
Some people are born with a turned toe at birth. Genetics can contribute to the structure and alignment of the foot you’re born with. You may be born with a foot type prone to developing bunions or have deformities causing your pinky toe to turn sideways.
2. Ill-fitting footwear
Wearing shoes with a tight, narrow, or insufficient toe space can put pressure on your toes. When your toes don’t have enough space to spread out naturally, they will be cramped up and forced to bend out of alignment. Over time, it will lead to your pinky toe turning sideways. It commonly happens with high heels and pointy-toe shoes.
3. Injury or trauma
Stubbing your pinky toe forcefully and constantly can cause its bones, joints, ligaments, or tendons to become injured or dislocated, resulting in your pinky toe turning sideways.
When an injury results in a fracture that hasn’t healed properly, it can cause your toe to become crooked. Unlike your other toes, your pinky toe is vulnerable to injuries or sudden impacts because it’s exposed and unprotected.
Activities such as running and wearing high heels may put pressure and stress on your toes, disrupting their natural alignment, which results in deformities over time.
4. Being overweight
Excess weight can put additional pressure on your foot’s joints and soft tissues, resulting in imbalances in the foot’s mechanics and increasing your risk for foot deformities, such as pinky toes turning sideways.
Moreover, obesity can worsen the effects of ill-fitting footwear. The combination of excess weight and pressure of tight shoes can lead to toe deformities.
Obesity can also increase your risk of developing and worsening arthritis which can severely affect the alignment of your toes.
Treatments for a sideways pinky toe
Treating a turned pinky toe can vary depending on the underlying cause and severity.
Below are the following treatments you may consider:
1. Change your lifestyle.
Wear wider, comfortable-fitting shoes with enough room to spread your toes naturally.
Opt for lower heels or flats instead of stilettos. You may reserve the high heels for special occasions only.
Avoiding tight, narrow, or high-heeled shoes can prevent further discomfort and worsen the condition.
Perform exercises and stretches to help your muscles and tendons become more flexible. In addition, working with a physical therapist will help you build strength in the muscles on the toes and foot.
2. Toe taping
Taping techniques may help improve toe alignment, especially for babies with toes turned or curled.
It can also be used as an effective complementary treatment technique for adults with bent or turned pinky toes.
3. Toe spacers
Toe spacers can alleviate problems associated with crooked toes. They are available over the counter. It can be used with shoes on during the day and at night-time.
Toe spacers may help realign turned toes and support your affected pinky toe.
4. Toe splints
Orthotic devices like toe splints and wraps can hold your toe in a proper alignment, promoting straightening and preventing the worsening of your overturned toe.
5. Shoe inserts
You may buy specially-designed shoes or shoe inserts to provide better support and cushioning and avoid pressure on your pinky toe.
Botox helps relieve spasticity (permanent stiffness of a muscle). It acts as a nerve block and relaxes the muscles. It may bring your toes back into their normal position by reducing muscle tension.
Surgery is the last option if your turned pinky doesn’t respond to the initial treatment options mentioned.
If your toe has become rigidly crooked and bent outwards and does not move from that position, and it causes pain that results in problems when walking, then your doctor may advise surgery.
Surgery is done by cutting a small section of your toe bone and aligning it back into its correct position.
1. Can toe stretching defeat toe problems?
Yes, toe stretching and massages, along with toe wraps, splints, and separators, effectively treat most symptoms of toe problems.
2. Do flip-flops cause hammer toes?
When you wear flip-flops, you curl your toes to grip the shoe. As a result, wearing them all the time and for long periods can cause shortening of the muscles of the toes that grip it leading to hammer toes.
3. How long is the recovery from hammer toe surgery?
The surgery for the hammer toe is an outpatient procedure. You may go home on the same day of the surgery.
After the surgery, you must wear a surgical boot to support the affected area.
At 2-4 weeks post-surgery, your stitches and pins will come off. Complete recovery usually takes 6-8 weeks.