Since the day he was born, Jeff Dick of Bismarck has had a congenital deformity where the smaller (pinky) toe overlaps the toe next to it.
“A lot of people are born like that,” he said. While some people can have it on one or both feet, “for me, it happened to be on the left foot, while the right foot is normal.”
While he was growing up, he didn’t feel any pain from the deformity, just “mostly embarrassment,” he said. However, as he grew older, the physical pain arose.
Ten years ago, he first sought to have the problem corrected with surgery; it was unsuccessful. The only other option – at least from what he heard from other physicians – was amputation, an option that did not interest Dick.
“Nobody thought it would be fixed,” he said, adding that he started to look for a physician who would fix it without having to remove the toe.
After calling the Podiatry department at Trinity Health, Dick spoke with a nurse who recommended that he speak with Tyson Williams, DPM, a reconstructive foot and ankle doctor with Trinity’s Podiatry department.
“When I first met Dr. Williams, the minute he saw it, he smiled and said, ‘I can fix this for you,’” Dick said. “He seemed very confident when he mentioned that this was one of his favorite toe deformities to surgically correct.”
On February 5, 2018, Dick arrived at the Trinity Hospital – St. Joseph’s Same Day Surgery department, where Dr. Williams straightened the toe. Technically speaking, Dr. Williams performed a joint release, a tendon lengthening, and a skin plasty. These combined surgical techniques are used to correct the toe cosmetically and functionally. “I have done this corrective surgery many times,” said Dr. Williams. “It can be a challenge, but it is always enjoyable to do. The patients seem to be well pleased with the results and they are particularly happy with the big change in appearance of their toe.”
“Everyone in Bismarck said, ‘no way could that toe be fixed,’” Dick said. However, Dr. Williams proved them wrong. “I finally have 10 normal toes, something I wanted all my life. And he made it happen.”
The staff who worked with Dr. Williams also helped make the procedure a success, Dick said. “His nurses, Kathy and Carolyn – I’ve never met such nice people. Dr. Williams is down-to-earth and really caring, not afraid to spend some time with his patients. I would highly recommend that whole department.”
“My clinic nurses are exceptional, and I also work with an excellent surgical team of nurses and scrub techs,” added Dr. Williams. “They deserve a lot of credit for the overall success and experience of every patient.
“The congenital overlapping toe deformity that Dick had is by far not the most common type of toe problem we treat,” Dr. Williams said. “However, they seem to be very rewarding. About 50 percent of the time, these toes will become painful and they are difficult to fit into many shoes. Conservative care should be attempted, but usually it is ineffective. Often times, this deformity is treated as a child or adolescent to prevent future pain and arthritic ‘setting in’ with the deformity, as well as avoiding embarrassment and shoe restrictions.
As with most foot and ankle conditions in which there is a strange deformity or pain, it should be evaluated, Dr. Williams explained. “In many cases, a deformity may be a normal variation. Sometimes it may require nonsurgical or surgical intervention to prevent or surgically correct the problem. I recommend for people to come in and get it checked out, so they know what options are out there. After all, good feet and ankles help us maintain a productive and healthy lifestyle.”
Trinity Health’s Podiatry department – which includes Aaron Albers, DPM; Ashley Evanoff, DPM; Roger Racz, DPM; and Tyson Williams, DPM – is located at Health Center – Medical Arts, 400 Burdick Expressway E, Minot. For appointments or consultations, please call 857-3584.