Facts About Overlapping Toes

Overlapping toes is a deformity of the toes which is relatively common in babies and small children but it can also affect people of all ages, especially the older population. If it’s congenital, it’s possible that one of the parents already have overlapping toes. Unfortunately, it can only get worse unless there’s medical intervention.

In a nutshell, overlapping toes happen when one toe is lying on top of the toe next to it. It usually involves the fifth toe but can also affect the second toe. One study found out that around 34% of men and women over 50 years of age suffer from overlapping toes, making it the second most common structural foot disorder in this age group.

Surgical correction is currently the most effective medical treatment for this health problem. However, strapping and adhesive taping may also be effective, but it is only recommended if the child is already 4 months or older. Overlapping toes is not a condition kids can outgrow; if it resolves on its own, that’s pretty rare.

The Nature of Overlapping Toes

For babies, this condition may run in the genes. If none of the parents have this particular toe deformity, then it’s possible that it developed because of the fetus’ position inside the mother’s womb. For adults, overlapping toes happen as a result of other pre-existing foot problems such as arthritis, hammertoe or other toe injuries.

Pain can only get worse over time which is often accompanied by warmth and inflammation. Other symptoms include foot discomfort and toe irritation. The combination of these symptoms can eventually affect your natural gait and body mechanics.

Risk Factors for Overlapping Toes

While the exact cause of overlapping toes remains unclear, the following factors have been identified to increase your risk for this health condition:

Genetics. Although there’s no definite explanation behind it, genetic components play a part in the development of overlapping toes especially if the mother or the father the condition.

Ill-fitting shoes. High heels and other footwear that are too tight for you may squeeze your toes causing them to overlap each other.

Prevention of Overlapping Toes

Although there’s not much you can do when it comes to genes, there are lifestyle modifications and other means to prevent this deformity as an adult.

  • Wear comfortable shoes. You don’t have to avoid high heels altogether but you can choose something that doesn’t squeeze your toe (those five-inch stilettos aren’t doing you any good) and has a wider platform. Your toes need enough room to flex and they shouldn’t constantly rub against each other. Your feet are biggest in the afternoon so it’s the best time to purchase your new footwear.
  • If you must wear heels at work, relax and stretch your feet as much as you can. This is especially important if you already have calluses, corns, and bunions.
  • You can wear toe separators to ease pain caused by bunions. They also function to facilitate proper toe alignment. If you can’t find products that fit your feet snugly, you can ask your podiatrist about customized ones.

Home Management for Overlapping Toes

  • Some toe separators aren’t exactly comfortable and sometimes, wearing them in your shoes isn’t the best choice. However, you can always wear them at home, wherein you don’t need to wear confining footwear, to keep your toes in place.
  • If you have corns, never cut them because it can potentially lead to irritation and infection. Consult your doctor regarding treatment.
  • Soak your feet in warm water (not hot) to help with the swelling and pain. However, if you have other health issues like diabetes, you may want to refer to your doctor first.
  • While you should take a break from wearing shoes, you shouldn’t walk around barefoot either. Wear flip-flops to let your toes spread without being susceptible to fungal foot infections.
  • Roll a tennis ball along the bottom of your foot to ease stress brought about by wearing confining footwear or walking all day long.

When to Call Your Doctor?

You shouldn’t ignore overlapping toes or hope they will go away because the deformity and accompanying symptoms only get worse over time. Depending on the extent of the deformity, your podiatrist might not recommend surgical treatment especially if conservative treatment is possible. Overlapping toes may not constitute a medical emergency but it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment; the earlier, the better.

 

Image courtesy of etaphop photo at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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1 Comment

  • GST Refunds Delhi January 11, 2018 10.26 am

    Awesome work.Just wanted to drop a comment and say I am new to your blog and really like what I am reading.Thanks for the share

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