Have you ever noticed that your second toe is longer than your big toe? If that’s the case, you have a common condition known as Morton’s Toe. It’s so common that one study found that 42.2% of all participants surveyed had a second toe that was longer than their big toe.
This condition is also called “Greek foot” because almost every ancient Greek sculptor depicted their subjects with this condition. Art historians have concluded that the sculptures are like this not because of genetics, but because the long toes of this foot shape were more aesthetically pleasing (according to the ideals of the time, of course).
Unfortunately for people who have this condition today, having a longer second toe may look nice, but it can cause some foot problems if left untreated.
Morton’s Toe Complications
While Morton’s Toe is common, the reality is that this condition puts more pressure on the delicate second toe.
Depending on your gait, and what shoes you wear, this distribution of pressure can cause ongoing problems. Most shoes today aren’t built to accommodate a second toe that’s longer than your big toe, and if you’re squeezing your toes into shoes that don’t fit, it will exacerbate your pain.
Here are some conditions that are often associated with Morton’s toe.
Overpronation occurs when our feet rotate inward too sharply. This can lead to knee, hip, and back pain if it goes uncorrected.
Pain in the metatarsal area
The metatarsals are the bones that connect the toes to the rest of the foot. The metatarsal of our big toe is the thickest because it’s designed to absorb a greater stress load.
However, people with Morton’s toe may find themselves experiencing pain in the metatarsal area of their second toe since it’s absorbing some of the stress load intended for the big toe.
Hammertoe is an abnormal bend in the second toe, which can occur because of trauma, or pressure from shoes. People with Morton’s toe can easily develop a hammertoe if they force their feet into shoes that aren’t long enough to accommodate their second toe.
Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammation of the tissue under the ball of the foot. It’s an overuse injury that can be exacerbated by overpronation.
A bunion is a bony protrusion that can develop on the joint of the big toe. It’s caused by pressure on the foot, which forces the big toe joints out of alignment. Most often, this pressure is caused by improperly fitting shoes.
Shoes that are too tight can also cause calluses, which is a simple term to define rough or thickened skin on the sole. Any time a part of your foot rubs against your shoe or another part of your body, the painful friction can create a callus.
What Kind of Shoes Should I Wear for Morton’s Toe?
As you can see from the list above, many complications can arise for a person with Morton’s toe.
Without proper footwear, your second toe may get squished, and this pressure can easily cause a hammertoe, bunions, or calluses. People with Morton’s toe can also find their gait affected if they don’t wear proper shoes. Ongoing gait problems can cause long-term issues like plantar fasciitis, middle toe pain, and metatarsal pain.
To make sure you’re protected, look for shoes that have a larger toe box (toe area). You can also buy shoes that are half a size or a full size larger, to accommodate the longer length of your second toe.
The Benefit of Custom Orthotics When Your Second Toe Is Longer Than Your Big Toe
Some people with Morton’s toe opt for extra cushioning in the form of metatarsal pads, which sit underneath the second toe’s metatarsal joint. If the pad is in the right spot, this orthotic device helps relieve pressure on the second toe.
If Morton’s toe isn’t your only issue, you may benefit from a custom orthotic. A custom product offers support and treatment for multiple issues at once and can help relieve pressure and correct gait problems before they cause long-term damage.
At Orthotics Direct, we make every orthotic custom according to a digital or foam imprint, and we can even help you choose shoes that fit your longer second toe.