Overlapping and Underlapping Toes

Our toes are prone to many types of deformities. One common form is a toe that overlaps or underlaps the toe next to it.

This condition is unattractive but also can cause inflammation and pain. When the toe in the unnatural position rubs against the inside of the shoe, a blister, callus or corn or other type of irritation may result. If painful enough, you may even be forced to alter the way you walk.

Toes that Overlap

Most commonly in overlapping toes, the fifth toe has migrated to lie on top of the next one. Often too the second toe will overlap the big toe but any toe can be forced to overlap another.

There are many causes for this abnormality. It may be due to heredity or the position of the baby in the womb. Often shoes can be blamed, for example inflexible shoes that don’t bend enough while running, walking or jumping. Bunions caused by shoes that are too tight can also push toes to overlap.

Sometimes taping and stretching an infant’s foot can fix the problem but it may reoccur and, with aging, the deformity becomes fixed. To ease pain and inflammation, switch to shoes with a deep and roomy toe box. Applying toe straighteners or caps can help keep the toes separated. These can also teach the toes what their correct alignment should be.

For more severe cases, especially those with overlapping toes from birth, we will discuss several surgical options with you that will ease the tissue and tendons around the joint.

Toes that Underlap

Underlapping toes is a common condition in adults and children. Most often, the fourth and fifth toes are involved. Although the cause of toe underlap isn’t clear, a muscle strength imbalance may pull the toe ligaments in an abnormal fashion, resulting in a curl. Tight shoes definitely intensify the problem.

Toe straighteners and caps provide relief but usually only temporary. Surgical solutions depend on the degree of flexibility present – if the toe is still flexible, it can be straightened by releasing the tendon on the bottom of the toe. If however the toe is rigid, it may be necessary to remove a small bone segment.

Let Us Help with Any Toe Deformity

Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist has the right experience to treat toe, foot and ankle deformities of all kinds as well as relieve any foot or ankle pain. Many treatments and surgeries can be addressed right here in our office. Please call our Chicago office at (773) 561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. Toe deformities don’t have to be permanent problems – we can help.

Stavros Alexopoulos One of Chicago’s top podiatrists, Stavros Alexopoulos, DPM, treats routine to complex foot and ankle issues. Dr. Alexopoulos is currently accepting new patients at My Chicago Foot Expert located near Ravenswood, North Park, and Jefferson Park.

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