Take a look at your toes. No really, we’ll wait. If you look down and notice that your second toe is longer than your big toe, you may be one of the 20% of the population who has the hereditary condition known as Morton’s Toe.
So what’s the deal with this longer toe? “It’s not the actual toe that is longer, it is the metatarsal bone in your foot that is longer. This gives the appearance that your toe is longer,” says Kathleen O’Keefe, DPM, a podiatrist with the Foot Health Center of Merrimack Valley. So the actual presentation of Morton’s Toe is that the first metatarsal of the foot is shorter than the second metatarsal bone, making the second toe seem longer.
Don’t be alarmed, it’s a completely common condition (even Meghan Markle has it) and rarely can cause you any foot pain. But the risk is there. “When people walk they transfer pressure and will sometimes strain the second toe joint and develop pain underneath the foot,” says O’Keefe. “Runners oftentimes get damage to the nail because it’s hitting the end of the shoe.” O’Keefe does not recommend any corrective surgery for cosmetic purposes, however if a patient has pain caused by Morton’s Toe it should be treated by a doctor. There are many conservative options including a change in shoes that can make you feel better, however some patients do require surgery.
What CAN be a consistent problem? Morton’s Neuroma.
Morton’s Neuroma is a condition in the ball of the foot where enlarged, thickened nerves between the third and fourth toes pinch together and cause pain in the foot. If you are getting burning or cramping in that area, your podiatrist may point to Morton’s Neuroma. “It’s usually because of a poor fitting shoe or lots of physical activity that may put more pressure on the ball of the foot or pinch the nerves,” says O’Keefe.
Luckily it’s treatable, something as simple as modifying your shoe gear or shoe inserts to injections cure most patients. Some patients do however require surgery.
For more information on Morton’s Toe or Morton’s Neuroma, speak with your health care provider.