An overlapping toe condition occurs when one of your toes, usually the second toe extends over the big toe. A cross over toe occurs from damage to ligaments supporting a toe, causing a muscle imbalance – leading to slow dislocation and crossing over of the toe and this can happen due to bunion problems.
The feet on the image belong to one of our clients, Julie, and do not make for easy viewing. She would be the first to tell you that she is embarrassed by her feet, hates how they look and she even feels like she has to hide them from her husband! However, Julie has agreed for us to share her experience in the hope that she can help others with similar foot problems so that they do not have to go through what she has gone through and, most importantly, so that they can avoid surgery, something Julie is having to go through next week.
Julie is 55 and she is very fit and healthy, she does CrossFit, she loves running, rowing and lots of walking. She enjoys skiing and is very sporty, however due to her second toe crossing over her big toe she is struggling to find good hiking boots and CrossFit trainers that fit over her toes! British Summertime is here and she is unable to wear nice sandals or flip flops, she bought some Crocs the other week but she can not even wear them. The problem with her crossed toes is starting to impact the ability for Julie to do the things she loves and her problem is not going to go away! If left untreated it is only going to get worse, next her middle toe will be affected as the bunion pushes her big toe inwards even more and the other toes have no where else to go!
So how did this all begin?
Julie’s toes have progressively got worse over 2 years, she first noticed it in the first lockdown of 2020 and actually thought her toe was broken, but just left it. Her bunions continued to get worse and by October 2021 Julie knew that she needed to do something about it and she contacted the NHS podiatry team and got an appointment with them in November 2021. Following various assessments and a Musculoskeletal Clinical Assessment she finally got an appointment with a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in Salford, who simply advised Julie that she has 2 options to leave it and it will just get even worse or to have an operation on both feet to correct the problem, so the operation is booked for next week!
So what is actually going on?
The problem with Julie’s toes is caused by a bunion that is pushing her big to further and further inwards so the second toe has nowhere else to go and it is being pushed up and over her middle toe. If left untreated it will only get worse as the bunion continues to push her toes out of place. Overlapping or crossed toes are not only caused by bunions genetics can also be a factor, hammer toes can lead to overlapping toes, ill-fitting shoes: high heels with narrow toe sections can cause cramping of the toes which in time can lead to toes crossing over or injury such as dislocated joints may also be a reason for the overlapping of the toes.
Whatever the cause if your toes are overlapping or you are worried that they could go that way you need to seek medical advice.
Is it painful?
Julie admitted that it can ache and be uncomfortable but is not really painful. The biggest problem with this condition is the embarrassment it causes her, people have openly laughed at her feet which is obviously incredibly hurtful. As a sporty woman the condition is now threatening to stop her from doing the things that she loves, she is struggling to find good trainers, suitable walking boots and was dreading going skiing next year as we would not be able to get her ski boots on! So the surgery is necessary so she can live her life and continue to do the things that she loves and obviously treat herself to a nice pair of shoes!
We do not want to give too many details about bunion surgery but basically it involves:
- Making a small cut in the skin over your big toe.
- Cutting or scraping away the bunion.
- Straightening your toe bone.
- Fixing your toe bone in place with metal screws or staples put under your skin. These are often left in permanently.
It can be very painful and it can take a while to recover from surgery, so as we always say prevention is better than cure so is there anything that can be done to avoid the need for surgery?
Prevention is better than cure!
We are afraid to say that bunions and crossed over toes won’t go away by themselves, however there are things you can do to prevent your bunion from getting bigger. If you’re a female in your late 40’s or older, you’re at a much higher risk of developing a bunion than anyone else. Doesn’t seem fair does it?!
Do not worry there are things that you can do to avoid your bunions from getting worse and reducing the risk of bunion surgery!
At T4 Physio our custom made orthotics keep your feet in proper alignment, they help prevent further structural damage and provide relief from bunion pain at the same time they stop your bunions from getting worse.
Call Sue, our lovely front desk superstar on 033017 59838 to book your free foot consultation!
Julie was prescribed custom orthotics by the NHS which she got last year, but sadly for Julie it was really too late as the damage had already been done.
Reduce your risk of surgery call us now on 033017 59838 to book your free foot consultation and stay tuned as we follow Julie’s surgery experience and we can’t wait to see the after photos!