Curly toes describe a toe deformity in children where the toe is bent downwards or sideways towards the sole of the foot. It usually affects the 3rd/4th/5th toes.
Tightness in the tendon that runs along the sole of the foot to the tips of the toes is probably the reason however the true reason for this tightness in the tendon is unknown but may be inherited.
It is usually visible to the parents or an older child may notice it. It is often a worry for parents but not the child. The child may however complain of discomfort wearing certain shoes and the tips of the toes hitting the ground.
You can try taping which may improve the toe for a while but the deformity usually recurs when taping is stopped. Stretching the toe can help.
Short surgical procedures are possible:
One procedure called a “tenotomy” that involves cutting the tight tendon to allow the toe to straighten. This is through a small incision made on the under-surface of the toe that usually heals with no complications. The child has no lasting effects from the tendon being cut and it can successfully treat the curly toe.
Another option is a “tendon transfer” to move a tendon from the under-surface of the toe to the top of the toe. Again the incisions used are tiny and usually heal well.
These procedures usually have the same end result and can be discussed with your surgeon.
Before the age of 6-7 the chances of the toe correcting itself are higher. Surgery should therefore not really be suggested as a possibility until after this age.