Over-Riding Toes

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An overlapping toe on one or both feet is fairly common. It may be an inherited condition. It may also result from shoes that are too tight or an underlying foot condition.

An overlapping toe condition occurs when one of your toes, usually the big toe or pinky toe, extends over the adjacent toe. A similar condition, called an underlapping toe, develops when your toe extends under the adjacent toe.

Any problems that cause pain or discomfort in the toes should be given prompt attention. Ignoring the symptoms can aggravate the condition, and lead to a breakdown of tissue or even infection. Conservative treatment (non-surgical treatment) of overlapping toes begins with accommodating the disorder. Shoes with a high, broad toe box (toe area) are recommended for people suffering from overlapping toes. Forefoot supports such as gel toe straighteners, gel toe caps and toe combs are often recommended to keep overlapping toes apart. These effective devices are designed to reduce friction to help relieve the discomfort.


  • Heredity
  • Tight-fitting shoes
  • Arthritis
  • Biomechanics
  • Foot conditions – Bunion, Flat feet, Hammer toe, High arches


The most common causes of a broken foot include:

  • Be sure your shoes fit properly. The first step in relieving foot pain is to wear comfortable shoes with a wide toe box. Try to find a specialty shoe store with a trained fitter who can help you find the right size and fit. You can also bring your shoe selection to your foot doctor to help figure out which shoes work and which don’t.
  • Use toe separators. You can buy these at most drugstores or online, or your foot doctor may make one for you. There are different types and sizes of separators, so you may have to experiment to find one that works for you.
  • Try pads and inserts. If a bunion is causing your big toe to overlap, you can try using shoe inserts to align your foot and toes, or use bunion pads to relieve the pressure.
  • Wear a splint. Your doctor may recommend wearing a splint at night to help straighten an overlapping toe. Your doctor may also recommend a prescription orthotic for your shoes.
  • Opt for physical therapy. This may be especially helpful if tight muscles and tendons are involved in causing the toe to overlap. A physical therapist will likely also give you exercises to do at home to help straighten your toe, strengthen your foot muscles, and relieve pain.