Morton's toeIf you're like Meghan Markle and you have a second toe longer than your big toe, than you have Morton’s toe. Named for the American orthopedic surgeon, Dudley Joy Morton, this condition occurs when the growth plate of the big toe closes too early, resulting in a shorter big toe as compared to the second toe. About 15-20% of the population has this type of toe.

People with Morton’s toe place more of their weight on their second toe than do people with longer big toes. While many people can go through life with no pain or problems due to a longer second toe, having one does put you at risk for several foot conditions.

  • Calluses underneath the toes
  • Arch pain
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Hammertoe
  • Metatarsalgia- pain in the ball of the foot
  • Pain in the base of the 2nd toe
  • Hypermobile big toe increases risk for injuries like turf toe
  • Arthritis

Morton’s toe should not be confused with another condition called, Morton’s neuroma, which is a nerve that becomes enlarged between the 3rd and 4th toes. However, Morton’s toe can contribute to the development of Morton’s neuroma when a person with this condition wears shoes that don’t appropriate accommodate their second toe.

1. Calluses and Morton's Toe

Calluses are a thickening of the skin that forms in response to too much pressure on the foot. Because Morton’s toe results in an imbalance of the foot, calluses are more likely to form in areas where more pressure is placed, most often on the bottom of the foot.

2. Arch Pain and Plantar Fasciitis Caused by Morton's Toe

Patients with Morton’s toe are more likely to excessively pronate or roll their feet inwards when they walk or run. This can lead to arch pain and plantar fasciitis. Controlling the pronation is the key to preventing this from occurring.

3. Ingrown toenails and Hammertoe

Patients who wear shoes that don’t properly accommodate their longer second toe are more likely to develop an ingrown toenail or hammertoe.

4. Metatarsalgia, Turf Toe, and Sports

Metatarsalgia or pain in the ball of the foot (can occur in one location such as pain at the base of the second toe) or across the entire ball. People who are involved in sports and have a Morton’s toe are more likely to develop this condition.

In addition, people with Morton’s toe who are kickers in football or play soccer are at greater risk for turf toe due to a hypermobile big toe.

5. Body Conditions Associated with Morton's Toe

Morton’s toe has also been associated with overall body pain conditions like fibromyalgia, back, knee, and hip pain likely due to the imbalance of the foot.

Treatment for Conditions Caused by Morton’s Toe in Seattle

While there are many conditions caused and associated with Morton’s toe, there are many things you can do to treat and prevent them from occurring.

  • Buy shoes to accommodate your longer second toe (wider toe box) that also have great arch support. Remove the arch support that comes with your shoe and instead use a good over-the-counter insert like Powerstep or Redi-thotics.
  • Avoid high heels as these can also place more pressure on the ball of the foot.
  • Custom orthotics can help treat prevent arch pain and plantar fasciitis by properly balancing your foot mechanics.
  • Use of a metatarsal pad alone or as part of custom orthotics can help alleviate metatarsalgia
  • Physical therapy to help with gait and to strengthen foot muscles may help
  • Avoiding high impact sports and losing weight can help relieve foot pressure.
  • Foot surgery to correct the problem should be a last resort.
Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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