Is One Of Your Toes Ignoring The Rest?

Is your big toe or pinky toe distancing itself from it’s neighbor? Typically our toes all get along and live well in close quarters but occasionally we may have one or two toes that drifts upwards, downwards or off to one side. Why is that? Well, there are many causes for toes that won’t align with the rest.


Sometimes as a result of surgery or injury, toes will appear to float above the rest. This can result in what is termed a “flail” or “floppy” toe. The cause of this can be a damaged tendon, nerve or ligament under the toe. There are also occasions when a toe contracts upwards/downwards or appears “bent” and we refer to this as a “hammertoe.” This is usually due to the structure, genetics or mechanics of your feet. Lastly, there are toes that seem to want to drift sideways and encroach on its neighbor, or in the case of the big toe or pinky toe, it may drift and appear as if it’s distancing itself from the other toes. The cause of this can be due to arthritis, a surgical complication, injury to a tendon, nerve or ligament or as a result of the mechanics in your foot. For example, those with bunions will note that their big toe will start to drift towards the second toe (this is due to genetics or mechanics). Also, those with rheumatoid arthritis notice their toes starting to drift toward the pinky toe (this is due to arthritis).


In all of the above cases, there is no reason to be concerned as long as it is not painful, you have adequate sensation in your feet, there is no reason to suspect that it will lead to a wound and you can fit into your shoes without concern. However, if any of these are not true, then it may be time to consult a professional.

Callusing or corns can be a first sign that your toes are too closely approximated and this means that you are at risk for a wound. An Advanced Foot Care Nurse or Chiropodist can help treat these before they become a wound. They may even recommend a small accessory, such as a toe separator, to prevent toes from rubbing on one another.

If mechanics is the root cause of your malalignment, a Pedorthist or Chiropodist can conduct a biomechanical exam to pinpoint the cause and offer treatment recommendations, such as orthotics.

If your floating toe, contracted toe or migrating toe is painful or difficult to fit in your shoes, you will want to consult a Chiropodist about advanced treatment options. Advanced treatment by a Chiropodist can include an in-office procedure to straighten or better align your toe. These procedures are made comfortable by using a numbing medicine in your foot, similar to how a dentist numbs your mouth. These procedures start at $250.

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