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What Is Mortons Toe?

There are many different types of feet, each with their own unique shape and size. One such type is Morton's toe, named after the doctor who first identified it. Morton's toe is characterised by a longer second toe and has been found in ancient sculptures and fossilised footprints. While it is just one type of foot, differences in lengths and shapes have been observed over time.

Morton's toe, or Morton's foot, is a condition where the second toe appears longer than the big toe. It is quite common, with some people having it and others not.

Many people don't know what Morton's toe is, but it can significantly impact your foot health. This condition can cause calluses to form more easily on the bottom of your foot and can also lead to other problems like foot pain. So what exactly is Morton's toe? Note, that it's not the same as Morton's neuroma.

Mortons Toe

To tell if you have mortons toe, just take a look at your feet. If your second toe sticks out further than your big toe, then chances are you have it. It's actually very common. A study of American college students, just over 42% had longer second toes. This hereditary condition, known as Morton's toe, was found in 45.7% of men and 40.3% of women surveyed. So if you've ever wondered why your second toe looks a bit different than the others, there's a good chance it's because you have Morton's toe!

There is evidence to suggest that Morton's toe may actually be an advantage in athletics. It is thought to provide better balance and stability. This may give athletes who have Morton's toe a leg up on the competition. A 2004 study trusted Source comparing professional athletes to non-athletes found that professional athletes tended to have Morton's toe more frequently than non-athletes.

The metatarsals are a group of long bones in the foot that connect the toes to the back of the foot. They form on the arch of the foot and support your body weight. The first metatarsal is the longest and strongest of the metatarsals. In people with Morton's toe, the first metatarsal is shorter than the second metatarsal, which can cause more weight to be placed on the thinner second metatarsal bone.

Can Mortons toe cause pain?

Morton's toe can cause aches and pains in the foot because it affects the structure of the foot. Weight is not distributed evenly across the foot with this condition, which can cause problems on the first and second metatarsals.

Treatment for Morton's toe pain

A doctor or podiatrist will attempt to alleviate your big toe and first metatarsal pain by placing a flexible pad under those areas. This will increase the weight-bearing on those points and hopefully relieve some discomfort.

Other conservative treatments include:

  • Exercises. To help strengthen and stretch the muscles of your foot. Physical therapy can also be used.

  • Medication. Several over-the-counter NSAIDs can help reduce pain and swelling, including ibuprofen and naproxen. In some cases, your doctor or podiatrist may prescribe stronger anti-inflammatory medication.

  • Custom shoe accessories. Your orthotics specialist can often help ease your foot pain through custom-made orthotics.

If the pain persists, your doctor may recommend surgery as the best solution. There are two common types of surgical procedures:

  • Joint resection. Arthroscopic surgery is used to remove a small portion of the interphalangeal joint. This type of surgery is also known as interphalangeal joint arthroplasty.

  • Arthrodesis. A joint in the toe is removed, and the bones are allowed to heal so they can join back together. This is called interphalangeal joint arthrodesis.

Taking care of your feet

Some simple things you can do to take care of your feet and prevent pain include:

  • Wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes with good support.

  • Buy shoes with a wide roomy toe area & avoid shoes with pointed toes.

  • Add an insole with arch support.

  • Consider padding "hot spots," places in your shoes where it rubs, creates pain or isn't padded enough.

Caring for your feet is essential to prevent calluses from forming. Calluses are caused by repeated pressure and can become thick and dry if not cared for properly. Taking regular care of your feet can help prevent calluses from becoming a problem.

Morton's toe and other foot conditions

Other foot pain is sometimes associated with Morton's toe:

  • If you have a long second toe that rubs against the front of your shoes, you may develop a corn or callus on the tip of the toe. To prevent this from happening, you can try wearing shoes that have more room for your toes or padding the area where your second toe rubs against the shoe.

  • If you have Morton's toe, you may be at risk of developing a hammer toe. This is when the big toe bends inward, becoming shorter. The pressure from shoes can cause the muscles in the toe to contract, leading to a hammer toe.

  • If you have Morton's foot, you may be more likely to experience redness, warmth, or swelling in your toes when they are squished by a shoe. This can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, but there are ways to manage the condition.

  • If you have a bunion on your first toe, it can cause the big toe to shift out of place. This can make it look like your second toe is longer than your first toe.

The takeaway

Morton's toe isn't a disease but a standard foot shape where the second toe looks longer than the first.

Foot pain is a common problem that a variety of factors can cause. If you are experiencing foot pain, there are several things you can do to find relief. In some cases, changing your shoes may be all that is necessary. If your pain persists, however, there are a number of different treatment options available from your podiatrist.

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