Fixed or flexible toe joint deformities

Toe joint deformities, such as hammer, claw, and mallet toes, may be fixed or flexible. In a fixed deformity, the toe joint cannot move normally. In a flexible deformity, some movement is possible. You may be able to move your toe with your hand but not be able to move it by itself, as you normally would. A flexible deformity may become fixed over time if you do not treat it.

Whether your deformity is fixed or flexible can also affect treatment options.

  • A fixed deformity often requires surgery to be straightened.
  • A flexible deformity can sometimes be straightened without using surgery. Stretching the joint or taping down the toe may work.

Last Updated: July 7, 2009

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