A vast majority of Aussies, over 75% in fact, suffer from some foot pain, stemming from bunions, corns, plantar warts, or being on your feet for too long.
A typical connection between these different foot ailments is overlapping toes. Many factors can cause overlapping toes, but it is usually painful. Luckily, there are steps you can take to treat this condition and prevent further foot complications.
1. Wear Wide Shoes
Wearing shoes too narrow or too tight can make overlapping toes worse and more painful. Most often, it is the pinky toe or the big toe overlapping with your other toes.
While wearing wide shoes won't fix your problem, it will reduce the pressure and the friction against your toes that could be pushing them into an overlapped position.
Wider shoes will give your toes space to be separated as opposed to being squished and overlapped.
2. Avoid High Heels
High heels are usually quite narrow and force all the toes to be crammed together at a close angle. This tightness can worsen overlap and even lead to other conditions like bunions or corns.
If you can, avoid wearing high heels to prevent a worsening condition.
3. Flexible Footwear
This tip goes along with the wide shoes we mentioned earlier. Stiffer footwear can force your toes into uncomfortable positions like being overlapped or cramped.
Flexible material will allow the toes to spread out naturally. This flexibility will help an overlapped condition and help to prevent the progression of worse conditions like corns, bunions, and hammertoes.
4. Toe Separators
The tips we've mentioned so far aren't cures or treatments: they are tips to help manage your condition and prevent it from getting worse.
But if you want to treat your overlapping toes, one of the ways to do that is with toe separators. Toe separators, also called toe spacers, physically separate your toes, keeping them in the correct alignment.
Many people use a version of these when painting their toenails to keep the nails from touching other toes.
However, you can find several different types of toe separators online that you can use to fix overlapping toes. You can also visit a podiatrist and get a custom set of toe separators explicitly made for your feet.
The downside to this treatment is that you can only use toe separators when you're not moving. You can use them when you're sitting around the house.
Unlike toe separators and spaces, bandages can be used throughout the day to keep your toes from overlapping. Using either bandages or toe loops will secure the problem toe to the toe next to it.
Keeping the toe attached to the adjacent toe with a bandage or tape will keep that toe from overlapping. It will force it to stay in the proper alignment with your other toes.
While you can use this method when walking around, it isn't as useful as toe spacers or separators. Consider the pros and cons of each, and speak to your doctor about which would be best for your condition.
6. Visit a Podiatrist
While overlapping toes might not seem like a big deal that would warrant a trip to a podiatrist, they can become painful and lead to other foot conditions. A podiatrist will be equipped and able to evaluate your situation and decide the best course of treatment for you.
They could recommend one of the tips we've already gone over, or they could suggest something a bit more intense like custom orthotics, custom spacers, or even surgery.
If you have a severe condition, your podiatrist may recommend a surgical procedure to treat your overlapping toes. It's usually a last resort option, as podiatrists typically try other treatment methods before resorting to surgery.
There are a couple of different surgeries you could undergo depending upon your particular condition.
Butler's Surgical Correction
Doctors perform this type of surgery when the overlapping toe is your 5th toe, also known as the pinky toe. The surgeon will physically cut the tendon that connects the pinky toe to the foot, which will allow them to simultaneously lengthen it as well as put the pinky toe into the correct position and alignment with the other toes.
While this is an invasive procedure, it is quite effective. You will be able to walk and use the toe as you normally would after healing from the surgery.
Compared to Butler's Correction, the DeVries Correction procedure is much less invasive. In this type of overlapping toe correction, doctors don't adjust the toe itself. Instead, the surgeon releases the ligament connected to the problem toe.
Because of the relieving pressure caused by severing the ligament between the toes, this will allow the problem toe to move into its proper position slowly.
Dealing with Your Overlapping Toes: Wrapping Up
Overlapping toes can cause painful friction and lead to other painful conditions like bunions, hammertoes, and corns. Dealing with this condition could be as simple as getting some comfortable and wide shoes, or it could mean that you need to visit a foot specialist for a professional opinion.
Whatever you do, you should be looking to treat this condition to avoid the painful symptoms and to avoid developing a worse one in the future.