What Is Morton's Toe?

It's not too worrisome of a condition.

From being cold or painful to feeling like they're tingling or swelling, our feet can cause us a number of issues—especially when those issues are foot-related concerns related to the physical form of our feet.

Foot deformities can happen to anyone and, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), can include conditions such as splayfoot, high-arched feet, or flat feet. One such genetic foot deformity that can affect your big toe specifically is Morton's toe (also known as "Greek foot").

Everyone won't have the condition, but here's more information about Morton's toe.

What Is Morton's Toe and How Common Is It?

If you have a second toe that's longer than your first toe (your big or great toe), you likely have Morton's toe. It is considered to be a kind of brachymetatarsia. Brachymetatarsia, according to an August 2019 Radiology Case Reports article, is when any of the bones at the front of the foot are shorter than others and affect toe length.

Additionally, Morton's toe is not the same as Morton's neuroma, which is the result of thick tissue surrounding a nerve in your foot that leads to your toes, per the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

The toe condition is also relatively common: "It's found in about 20% of the population," Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, Vionic Innovation Lab expert and podiatrist at City Podiatry in New York City, told Health. Furthermore, Morton's toe is genetic, Sutera said, but it's typically nothing to worry about.

What Are the Effects of Morton's Toe?

Morton's toe does put more pressure on the second toe than the first, which can cause foot pain in some people. The increased pressure can also lead to painful corns or hard calluses on the second toe. The pressure and pain can certainly be aggravating, but in most cases, there's nothing serious to worry about.

Other issues may arise from Morton's toe as well: "Toenail damage, ingrown nails, and nail injury is also very common from having a longer second toe, especially if you wear high heels, pointy, narrow, tight shoes, or are a runner," Sutera said.

How To Resolve Issues Related to Morton's Toe

If you do have pain from Morton's toe, your shoes could be the culprit. You want to make sure your second toe has enough room in each pair of shoes you own. That could mean sticking to shoes that have a roomier toe area and throwing away any that don't.

"When we're at a shoe store, it's very common to measure for the great toe. You should measure for your longest toe," Sutera said. "Over time, cramming your second toe into a shoe that doesn't fit well can cause pain, arthritis, and hammering."

People with a longer second toe are also at greater risk of developing hammer toe, which is when the toe becomes bent in a downward angle per MedlinePlus, which too can be caused by not wearing comfortable shoes. It's just another reason to always wear shoes that fit properly, which Sutera said is the best treatment for Morton's toe. Orthotics and metatarsal pads can also help balance and redistribute the weight across the ball of the foot.

Although it's rare, surgery can also be used to shorten the toe—or lengthen the big toe, according to a June 2018 JB JS Open Access article—but it's usually used in very severe cases and when no other method has been successful in relieving pain.

So Morton's toe shouldn't hinder your everyday life all that much. But if it does, you should speak to a podiatrist to find out what can offer you some relief.

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