Morton’s toe is a condition that is typically painless, but it can lead to musculoskeletal issues. Chiropractic care can help.
What is Morton’s Toe?
Morton’s toe is a condition where the second toe is larger than the big toe on the foot. In technical terms, the first metatarsal is shortened relative to the second metatarsal. This condition has a few other names, such as “Royal Toe”, “Greek foot”, “LaMay toe” or long toe. Morton’s toe is not Morton’s neuroma. Dudley Joy Morton first described the Morton’s toe disorder, whereas Thomas George Morton discussed Morton’s neuroma1, which is a ball of foot pain between the 3rd and 4th toes. The tissue in this condition thickens around the nerves that lead to the toes, and it has generally been linked to wearing high-heeled shoes. Wearing low-heeled shoes with wider toe space can help, although some patients may end up with corticosteroid injections or even surgery.2 Morton’s toe has an interesting cultural and anthropological history. It has been idealized by Greek sculpture; in fact, the Statue of Liberty shares this feature. It has been as “aesthetic standard through Roman and Renaissance periods”.3
Complications of Morton’s Toe
While Morton’s toe is sometimes thought of as a “normal variant of foot shape”, it can lead to complications. The weight of a person’s body, when walking, is usually borne by the first metatarsal head. With Morton’s toe, the weight is transferred to the smaller head of the second metatarsal. This is a particular problem in “shoe-wearing cultures” as shoes don’t generally make space for the long second toe. Aside from nail problems, other difficulties can arise, such as musculoskeletal dysfunction. Even though about 10% of people have Morton’s toe, it is believed that over 80% of those people seek medical help for musculoskeletal issues resulting from the condition. The longitudinal arch drops in the foot, leading the ankle to roll inward. The pronation causes the leg to rotate internally, and the leg can end up “functionally shortened or lengthened”. Even though the legs aren’t different lengths, they can act that way. One hip lowers, due to the unbalanced pelvis, and spinal issues may result. Some of the problems can include scoliosis, kyphotic curve changes of the spine, knee pain, hip pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, low back pain, and more. A general treatment might be “proprioceptive orthotics”. These devices can help Morton’s toe as well as other foot problems, such as Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis, bunions, and hammer toes.4
Chiropractors look at patients and their lifestyles to see what may be contributing to their pain. They may recommend (for patients with problems resulting from their feet) custom orthotics and a change in footwear. Ergonomics matter, and treatment will depend on the nature of the foot problem. Some chiropractic offices offer massage, such as myofascial release, as well as other treatments, like foot mobilization, ultrasound, and stretching. Some foot problems respond to rest, ice, elevation, compression, and physiotherapy. Chiropractors are experts at treating the associated musculoskeletal pain in the rest of the body, as well. They tailor their treatment plans to the individual.5
See how orthotics can help.