Overlapping toes are a common foot deformity among children wherein your toe overlaps the one next to it. Some people may dismiss overlapping toes as a simple cosmetic issue. While having overlapping toes may appear unattractive, this is not the main issue.
Overlapping toes can also cause pain when you are walking or running. If ignored, you might suffer from complications of overlapping toes such as hard and soft calluses and other foot deformities.
Genetics. If your parents have overlapping toes, you have a higher chance of developing this foot deformity as well.
Wearing tight shoes. Wearing tight shoes for a long period of time can make your toes overlap each other.
A high or low foot arch. Your foot arch absorbs your body weight and allows you to propel your feet as your run or walk. Having a high or low foot arch changes your foot’s biomechanics and this can make the fifth toe overlap.
Having a long second toe. If your second toe is the longest among your other toes, it has a high tendency to overlap.
Foot injuries. Injuries might cause displacement and overlapping of your toes.
You have visibly deformed toes, usually the second and the fifth.
Presence of calluses. Calluses develop due to the frequent friction of your toe as it rubs against another toe or the inside of your shoe.
Swelling and pain that occurs when your toes rub against your footwear.
Change in your gait. Due to the pain caused by overlapping toes, your manner of walking changes. You tend to walk in a manner that is less painful for you.
If you are suffering from overlapping toes, you can try the following home management tips:
Use toe spacers and stretchers to correct your foot deformity and align your toes properly. Wearing toe separators can also relieve pain and allows you to resume your daily activities.
Use shoe inserts, gel pads or foot cushions. To minimize the pain, decrease pressure, and add more comfort to your feet, you can insert these in your footwear.
Soak your feet in a warm tub of water with Epsom salt. Epsom salt is a natural remedy for body aches and pain. Since your feet are more prone to developing corns and calluses due to your overlapping toes, soaking them in an Epsom salt solution can help relieve the pain as well as relax your tired feet.
It has been shown that compliance with non-surgical treatments such as the use of toe spacers, toe straighteners, toe separators, and foot cushions can achieve significant improvement and cure of overlapping toes, although it requires a longer period of time to achieve good results. Surgery is only considered when these conservative treatments failed to work.
To prevent yourself from developing overlapping toes, it is important to address the cause. For example, if the condition runs in the genes, parents should be aware of the condition and the possibility that their children might also develop the same health problem.
Early detection of overlapping toes during the infancy stage is a must. Infancy is the best time to correct overlapping toes because the bone structures of a child are not as rigid as compared to an adult’s.
Likewise, if you love to wear high heels and other tight-fitting shoes, you need to reconsider your choice and put more importance on your health. If wearing high heels cannot be avoided due to dress and uniform protocols, choose designs that do not compress your toes. It is also important to rest your feet once in a while if you wear high heels the entire day. Wearing shoe inserts and orthotic insoles are recommended for people with high and low foot arches.
Anyone can be affected by overlapping toes. Even if you don’t have it programmed in your genes, you can still acquire the condition depending on your footwear habits.