Overlapping and Underlapping Toes

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Overlapping and Underlapping Toes

Overlapping is characterized by one toe sitting on top of the neighboring toe and the fifth toe is the most commonly affected.

Underlapping toes usually involve the fourth and fifth toes and can be caused by an imbalance in muscle strength. If deformed toes are mobile, an easy release of the tendon in the bottom of the toe will allow them to lay flat.

Why won’t my toes lie straight?

Most times it is present at birth and can be caused by inherited traits and run in families. Adults can develop this problem over time if they are in the habit of wearing shoes that pinch the toes together because there isn’t much room for the toes to lay flat. It is also common to develop a bunion on the second toe that overlaps.

What can I expect for symptoms?

Irritation will come quickly causing blisters, red spots, corns and calluses. Eventually pain will follow as you walk on it more and if avoided it could create complications. While the direct cause of underlapping and overlapping toes has yet to be confirmed, there are still many ways to treat this condition.

How can they be treated?

Passive stretching and adhesive tape is most commonly used to correct the condition  in infants but the deformity will likely recur. 

Older people can use a conservative method like exercise but surgery is probably the most effective solution. If the toe is flexible, just releasing the tendon that is pulling it out of place may relieve it. If the deformity is rigid, surgical intervention could include the bone and skin as well.

A custom orthotic could bring relief but again, surgery is the best bet to permanently fix your toes. The type of surgery will depend on the patient’s age, lifestyle and medical history. Recovery can take up to six weeks following surgery and patients will need to stay off the foot as much as possible to ensure full recovery.

If you or your child suffer from this condition contact Dr. Discont or Dr. Krahn at  Family Foot and Ankle Care in Chandler Arizona at 480-732-0033 for an appointment. We can evaluate and analyze your symptoms and get you the treatment you need to get your toes back in line.