How Overlapping and Underlapping Toes Affect Foot Health
Overlapping toes are exactly what they sound like: toes that overlap one another. A person with overlapping toes will have a toe lying on top of an adjacent toe. The toe most often affected is the fifth toe.
Overlapping toes can form in an unborn fetus. Passive stretching and adhesive taping is used most often in helping return overlapping toes in infants to a normal position. However, the overlapping toes often recur after this treatment. In some cases the toes can be fixed surgically. A surgeon can release the tendon and soft tissues around the joint at the base of the fifth toe and fix the deformity that way. Sometimes, in very serious cases, the surgeon may insert a pin into the toe to keep it in place. The pin sticks out of the end of the toe and may be left in the toe for up to 3 weeks.
The fourth and fifth toes are most often affected by underlapping toes. What causes underlapping toes is not known. There is some speculation that they could be caused due to an imbalance in the small muscles of the foot. If the affected toes are flexible, releasing the tendon located in the bottom of the toe allows them to straighten. If the toes are more rigid, a surgerical procedure may be necessary to take out a bit of the bone in the toe. There is also a special form of underlapping toes called congenital curly toes.