Webbed toes, also known as syndactyly, is a rare condition where two or more toes are partially or fully joined by a flexible skin bridge. This condition is seen in approximately one in 2,000 births and is more common in males than females. Although webbed toes may not cause any discomfort or functional impairment, some people may choose to undergo surgery to separate the toes for cosmetic reasons or to improve movement and balance.
Syndactyly most commonly affects the second and third toes, but it can occur between any of the toes. In some cases, only the skin is joined, while in others, the bones, nails, and nerves may also be fused. There are two types of syndactyly: simple (involving only soft tissue) and complex (involving bones and other structures).
The cause of webbed toes is generally unknown, although it may be congenital (inherited) or associated with certain genetic syndromes such as Apert syndrome or Carpenter syndrome. In some cases, environmental factors such as exposure to certain chemicals or drugs during pregnancy may also play a role.
Diagnosis of webbed toes is usually made at birth during a physical exam. X-rays may be ordered to determine the extent of fusion and to assess the underlying bones and joints. Genetic testing may also be recommended in cases where syndactyly is associated with a suspected genetic disorder.
While syndactyly may not always require treatment, surgery to separate the toes may be recommended in select cases. The timing of surgery depends on the severity and type of the condition, as well as the individual’s age and overall health. Simple syndactyly may be corrected between 6 and 12 months of age, while complex syndactyly may require multiple surgeries over several years.
Surgery for webbed toes typically involves separating the skin, bones, and other structures, followed by placement of a skin graft or tissue expander to cover the gap and promote healing. Physical therapy may also be recommended following surgery to improve flexibility, strength, and balance of the affected foot.
If you or your child has webbed toes, it’s important to seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional such as Dr Gilbert Huang DPM. A podiatrist can evaluate the condition and recommend appropriate treatment options based on the individual’s unique needs and goals.
In conclusion, webbed toes or syndactyly is a rare condition that may or may not require treatment. While the cause is unknown, it may be congenital or associated with certain genetic syndromes. Surgery may be recommended for cosmetic or functional reasons in select cases. If you suspect that you or your child may have syndactyly, don’t hesitate to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and management.