Crossover Toe

What Is Crossover Toe?
Appropriately named, crossover toe is a condition in which the second toe mored toward the big toe, eventually crossing over and lying on top of it. It is a common condition that can happen at any age, though it is more common in adults. It is important to note that crossover toe is not  the same as hammertoe. It is actually far more complex.

While the crossing over of the second toe typically happens over a period of time, it can occur more quickly if caused by injury or overuse. Symptoms might include:

  • Pain, like a marble in the shoe, especially on the ball of the foot.
  • Swelling in the area of the pain.
  • Difficulty wearing shoes.

Crossover toe is a progressive disorder, which means it will never get better on its own. The best time to treat crossover toe is in the very early stages, when the patient may have pain, but the toe itself has not begun to cross over. Without treatment, the disorder will usually worsen to the point of joint dislocation of the second toe. As such, it is better to be seen by your podiatrist earlier rather than later.

What Causes Crossover Toe?
The generally accepted theory is that crossover toe is the result of abnormal foot mechanics, meaning that the ball of the foot beneath the second toe joint takes too much weight-bearing pressure. This pressure eventually weakens the supportive ligaments and causes the joint to fail to stabilize the toe, leading to the crossover.
Certain conditions or characteristics can make a person more likely to have excessive pressure on the ball of the foot. These include:

  • Severe bunion deformity
  • A second toe that is longer than the big toe
  • An arch that is structurally unstable
  • A tight calf muscle

The podiatrist will examine your foot, pressing on it, and maneuvering it to reproduce your symptoms. They will also look to potential causes and test the stability of the joint. You should expect for the doctor to order x-rays, and possibly other imaging studies.