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Joint Deformities of the Fingers and Toes

People with finger and toe joint deformities typically experience swelling and pain, as these deformities, though may be congenital in origin, are most often the result of misuse/overuse, injury, arthritis, and/or serious underlying diseases.

The different finger and toe joint deformities are as follows:

Rheumatoid Arthritis

A very excruciating and immobilizing chronic disease characterized by the destruction of the joints by the body’s own immune system, causing inflammation in the neighboring cartilage, ligaments and bone, leading to severe deformity. Not only are the joints affected, various organs are also affected, such as the kidneys (renal amyloiditis), lungs (fibrosis), and heart (atherosclerosis). (See article “Major Forms of Arthritis“)

Heberden’s and Bouchard’s Nodes

Both symptoms of osteoarthritis, they are permanent bony outgrowths in the joints of fingers and/or toes. Heberden’s nodes develop in the joints nearest the tips of the fingers/toes while Bouchard’s nodes develop in the middle joints.

Boutonniere and Swan Neck Deformity

Both involve the complex malfunction of the flexor and extensor tendons of the fingers. Boutonniere deformity is a condition wherein the middle joint is flexed toward the palm and the joint nearest the fingertip is hyperextended; while swan neck deformity is the reverse, that is, the middle joint is hyperextended away from the palm and the joint nearest the fingertip is bent towards it.

Hallux Valgus

Also called bunion, which is a condition characterized by the swelling of bursal sac or the formation of a bony mass in the joint at the base of the big toe causing it to eventually turn inward toward the second toe.

Hallux Rigidus

A condition in which bony spurs forming at the base of the big toe joint limit its upward motion, rendering it difficult to even walk, where the toe is required to bend upward.

Hallux Varus

A deformity wherein the great toe joint is bent away from the second toe. It is the exact opposite of hallux valgus or bunion.

Hammer toe

A deformity affecting the second, third, or fourth toe wherein the middle joint is permanently bent downward looking very much like a hammer. The condition can be congenital or acquired from wearing undersized shoes that press the toes into a bent position.

Mallet toe

A deformity similar to hammer toe except that it is the joint nearest to the tip of the toes which is bent downwards.

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  1. I never knew my own feet were so beautiful!

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