When the ligaments that support your toe joints are strong and flexible, your toes will point forward and be relatively flat. When these soft tissues become injured or can no longer support your toe joints, it’s not uncommon for your toes to begin shifting in direction. If this shifting goes unaddressed for too long, it can actually lead to toes that overlap one another. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at why overlapping toes develop and how Dr. McDonald can help treat the problem.
Causes And Symptoms Of Overlapping Toes
As we touched on in the introduction, overlapping toes occur when the soft tissues that support the joints in your toe become injured or damaged. When these tissues can’t hold the joint in the correct position, the joint can start to shift at the base, which forces the entire toe to begin pointing in a crooked direction.
Besides an acute injury to the toe, some of the more common underlying causes and risk factors of overlapping or crossover toes include wearing ill-fitting shoes that put abnormal pressure on your toe box, an underlying health condition that affects your toe joints like arthritis, or a genetic predisposition. For example, individuals with flat feet or overly high arches may be more prone to developing overlapping toes due to the way in which stress is dispersed throughout their feet.
Besides the obvious visual appearance of a crooked or fully overlapping toe, some symptoms that oftentimes accompany the condition include pain, toe swelling, the formation of sores or blisters on the toe if it faces additional pressure while inside a shoe and increasing discomfort when walking or running.
Diagnosing And Treating Overlapping Toes
If you notice that one of your toes has begun to shift or is already overlapping another toe, reach out to a foot specialist like Dr. McDonald. He’ll begin by conducting a physical exam where he’ll look at your toes and he may have you perform a few movement screens to see how it affects you while moving. While it may be obvious that you have an overlapping toe, your doctor may also order an X-ray to get a better understanding of how exactly your joint has shifted on its axis.
Treatment will depend on a number of factors, including the extent of your toe shifting and how likely it would be to respond to certain treatments. Caught early enough, and you may be able to prevent further shifting with the help of some conservative treatments, like shoe modifications, custom orthotics, toe spacers and physical therapy. Many mild cases can be effectively managed using these techniques, and while they may not shift your toe back to a normal position, they can help to prevent the need for surgery.
In the event that you’re dealing with a severe toe crossover or it is unlikely to respond or has failed to respond to conservative care, surgery may be the recommended course of action. During a minimally invasive corrective procedure, your surgeon will realign the toe joint and reinforce the supportive soft tissues to help hold the joint in place now and in the future. This procedure has a very high rate of success, but if you’re proactive in caring for your toes, you can likely avoid the need for surgery by addressing a shifting toe in its infancy.
For more information about overlapping toes, or to talk with a foot specialist about a different foot or ankle issue that you’re dealing with, pick up the phone and reach out to Dr. McDonald’s office today at (860) 244-8889.