Overlapping Toes: Present from Birth but Treatable
As congenital conditions go, overlapping toes is not one of the most serious, but it does bear watching. When one toe lies over its neighbor, it can lead to pain and problems when walking and wearing shoes. That’s why if you notice this deformity you should have your baby’s feet checked by one of our expert podiatrists, so you can find out what treatment is needed, if any.
Why Babies Have Crossed Toes
While there is some thought that the position in the womb can lead to this toe deformity, it is more likely that it is tied in with your child’s genetic makeup. In fact, one of you as parents may well have the same condition, since the problem seems to run in families.
Any toe can be affected, although it is most common in the pinky and the second toe. It usually lies a bit higher than the others and curls over top of the one next to it. When your child is small, this is not painful and does not limit their activity, because they are not standing and walking yet, and their bones are still soft.
Treatment for Overlapping Toes
We may start a regimen of passive stretching and taping to hold the toe in place over 6 – 12 weeks, but there is no guarantee that it will change the deformity, or it may revert again once we stop treatment. The goal is to help the toe lie straighter as the bones gradually harden. Other treatments such as special shoes with taller fronts, gel caps/straighteners, and toe combs may be recommended to help keep the toes separated and in a straighter position.
However, your child’s toe structure may still solidify in the bent position, and as he or she gets a bit older, difficulties may set in. The bones become more rigid, and the toe can start to hurt, because it doesn’t fit in normal shoes or rubs against them in an awkward way. At that point you may want to consider surgical correction.
Surgery to Correct Crossed Toes
If the toe is giving your child problems, we can do several procedures to alleviate the pain and help shoes fit better. A skin plasty may be needed to separate the skin between the toes and be able to move the toe into correct position. A tendon or other soft tissue may also need to be released (cut) so that it can be properly placed.
In some cases a pin may be put in to hold the toe in the right position. A small part of the pin may protrude from the end of the toe, so a special shoe or surgical boot must be worn for protection and activity will be limited. After the pin comes out, your child may still need to wear a splint for some time.
To discuss your child’s overlapping toes with someone who really understands feet and their development, call Aadvanced Foot Care Associates and make an appointment with our foot specialists at one of our three locations on Long Island: Rego Park (718) 896-4433, Plainview (516) 822-9595, or Flushing (718) 969-2266. You can also request an appointment online. With over 100 years of combined foot care know how, our experts will examine your little one’s feet and put them on the path to healing.