Approximately 7% of individuals have at least one overlapping toe on one of the feet. The pinky toe most commonly overlapping, the big toe and second toe also may have involvement. Doctors see overlapping toes in both men and women of all ages. Some indivudals may have one or more overlapping toes at birth or overlapping toes can develop over time.
Causes of overlapping toes
One or more overlapping toes may arise from an underlying foot condition, wearing tight shoes, or simply from genetics. Common causes of overlapping toes include:
- Foot conditions: Bunions, Flat feet, Hammer Toe, High Arches
- Improper fitting shoes
Diagnosing overlapping toes
To diagnose overlapping toes, a foot and ankle surgeon starts with a physical examination of the patient. The specialist most likely also performs diagnostic testing to view the bones and structure of the foot. Most doctors use X-Ray to see the bones of the foot. Doctors may also utilize an MRI to analyze the location and structure of ligaments. Using multiple forms of diagnostic testing allows doctors to accurately diagnose patients and prepare for treatment. Every individual has unique anatomy so diagnostics allow surgeons to plan for any abnormalities.
Treating overlapping toes
The treatment of overlapping toes varies depending on the age of the patient and the root cause of the overlapping toes. For babies born with one or more overlapping toes, the treating pediatrician can attempt to tape the toe. Taping the toe typically yields results within 6 months. Pediatricians may also use stretching and toe spacers in newborn babies. Treatment at a very young age remains desired due to the positive outcomes early treatment yields.
When treating overlapping toes in adults, patients should always see a board certified foot and ankle specialist, such as Dr. Adam Crawford or Dr. Donald Stewart at AOA Orthopedic Specialists. For adult treatment of overlapping toes, physicians typically start with conservative methods. Conservative methods for treatment of overlapping toes in adults include toe separators, properly fitting shoes, and physical therapy to aid in proper biomechanics. A surgeon may opt for surgical treatment of overlapping toes if the foot has a severely overlapping pinky toe or a deformity like a bunion.
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