Webbed toes is a medical condition described as the fusing of two or more toes that is seen at birth. It is not acquired or developed but can be traced to developmental factors during pregnancy. Cases of syndactyly (webbed toes and fingers) happen in one out of 2,500 to 3,000 births. And commonly occurs in the second and third toes.
What Causes Webbed Toes?
Webbed toes is normal and can be seen during the early stages of pregnancy. But as the fetus develops, an enzyme dissolves tissues connecting the digits to give toes and fingers its normal appearance. In cases of webbed toes, this does not happen and the fetus develops without the toes being completely separated.
The exact cause of webbed toes remains unknown. Some studies have shown that people with a family history of webbed feet have a higher tendency to develop the condition but this remains inconclusive. Webbed toes can also be related to genetic defects or symptoms of an underlying disease.
Classification/ Types of Syndactyly
- Webbed toes or fingers could be classified according to how the digits are fused together.
- Simple – this refers to toes joined by soft tissue
- Simple incomplete – a soft tissue that does not run the complete length of the toes
- Simple complete – the toes are joined by soft tissue running the complete length of the toes
- Complex – these are fused toes connected by bones or cartilage
- The most severe case of webbed toes are toes fused together by bones and cartilages with no clear pattern. This may also include the appearance of extra digits.
Symptoms and how it affects you
Webbed toes do not usually cause pain and does not have an adverse effect on the foot’s normal functioning. In some cases however, it can make wearing shoes difficult. It can also affect a person’s self-esteem because of the toe deformity.
Treating Webbed Toes
Surgery remains to be the only treatment option for those born with webbed toes. This is usually performed at 6 month to 2 years. The type of surgery performed depends on the severity of the condition. Simple syndactyly or toes connected by soft tissues only require minor surgery to separate the toes. However, webbed toes classified as complex require highly specialized surgery that can run for multiple sessions. Dr. Bruce Miller and Dr. Gregory Mangum are Podiatrists who specialize in treating toe deformities.
The Texas Foot Specialists located in Sugar Land, Pasadena and Houston we specialize in helping people with webbed toes and other foot disorders. To schedule an appointment call Sugar Land (281) 242-4448, Pasadena (281) 991-0600 and Houston (713) 664-6677.