Overlapping Toes – How do we treat them?

Baby with overlapping toes

What are overlapping toes?

At Performance Podiatry, we treat a lot of patients with overlapping toes. Overlapping toes are mostly characterized by one toe permanently overlapping another toe. Most children are born with this condition as it is mostly congenital (occurring within the womb). Overlapping toes are experienced commonly in infants and young children. Overlapping toes are most common within children who have one or two parents with the same condition. Studies show that it can occur within 25% of children. Overlapping toes can also be referred to as ‘curly toes’ or ‘hammer toes’. Regardless of what the condition is called, we understand that you may be worried that your child has it. Studies have shown that it most commonly occurs in the second and fifth toes. In some cases, four toes may overlap.

Why do we need to treat them?

Overlapping toes are not originally an issue as at the beginning of your child’s life as the bones are soft. However as they get older, bones get more rigid and therefore are less manageable. This is when the overlapping toes need to be fixed. This condition can make wearing shoes uncomfortable and difficult to wear. This condition can also cause pain, irritation and calluses. When a toe lies over another toe, pain and discomfort can occur when walking and wearing shoes. A lot of people believe that their children’s
toes will correct themselves over time, however in 80% of cases, taping and strapping is needed to correct gait and prevent sustained injury. That’s why it’s best to get your children’s feet checked at Performance Podiatry in order for us to assess, diagnose and treat your children’s condition.

How do we treat them?

The first line of treatment involves shoe modification, strapping, taping and splinting. This has shown to have a 98% success rate in newborns and we use the same principles for adults. This method will cause little to no discomfort, but should be done properly by a podiatrist rather than waiting for the problem to self-correct. There are a variety of treatment options for this condition, this can include strapping and taping, or should this method be unsuccessful, a minor surgical procedure. If you are concerned, book in to discuss treatment options with one of our experienced podiatrists.

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The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.