Balance is crucial in everything from hanging a picture to executing a difficult ballet step. When things get out of balance, they may not look pleasing, or they may even be harmful—you could fall and break a bone. When the muscles and tendons in your toes are out of balance, the resulting overlapping toe can be unattractive, and if not treated it can cause pain as well.
This toe deformity is not uncommon, and usually appears at birth, especially if one or both parents have the same condition. While your child is small, and the bones and tissues still flexible, there may be no discomfort. It is possible that the toe could straighten out on its own when your child begins walking, or that it will never be an issue for them.
If conservative treatment has any chance of success, it needs to be started soon after birth. Taping, binding, and passive stretching and exercise are all methods to try to straighten the toe, but they are often not successful. If your child is born with one toe on top of another, come and see our foot doctors right away to see if we can have any success with these methods.
As your child grows, bones begin to harden and the uplifted toe can become rigid and rub against footwear. This can cause redness, swelling, and soreness at the hotspot, and eventually he or she may have trouble walking. Surgery will likely be needed to correct a toe that is causing discomfort.
The procedure involves releasing the tendon that is too tight and pulls the toe out of balance. Other soft tissues may need to be released as well, and that may require a small skin graft. In rare cases, a pin may be inserted to hold the toe straight while healing. Afterward, a splint will likely be needed, and keeping weight off the foot is crucial so the surgery is not undone by movement of the toe.
If your child needs treatment for this toe deformity, call Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona in Metro Phoenix at one of our two locations—Chandler, AZ at (480) 963-9000, or Gilbert at (480) 981-1800—or simply request an appointment right now using our contact form. We will help correct this muscle and tendon imbalance so your child can walk and play without pain.