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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.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Gavin W.G. Chalmers, DPM - Podiatry and Podiatric Surgery
Last Revised June 29, 2011

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