Underlapping or Overlapping Toes

Feet play an essential role in our lives. They provide the necessary support for the body, help us move around and perform day-to-day activities. But, have you ever heard of underlapping or overlapping toes? They are foot conditions that you might not be familiar with but can affect your feet in various ways. In this article, we will be discussing what these conditions are and how they can be treated.

Overlapping Toes

Overlapping toes occur when one toe is lying on top of the adjacent toe. The fifth toe is the most commonly affected, but it can happen to any toe. The condition can develop in an unborn fetus or can be caused by muscle or tendon imbalances. Other causes include trauma, arthritis, or neuromuscular disorders.

The treatment for overlapping toes in infants is usually passive stretching and adhesive taping, but the deformity can recur. If the toes are not corrected at a young age or if the deformity is severe, surgery may be necessary. During surgery to correct overlapping toes, the soft tissues and tendons at the base of the fifth toe joint are released. In some cases, a small pin may be placed to hold the toe in a straightened position. This procedure usually takes about three weeks to heal completely.

Underlapping Toes

Underlapping toes are usually caused by the fourth and fifth toes. This condition is sometimes referred to as ‘congenital curly toes’. The exact cause of underlapping toes is still unknown, but it is speculated that an imbalance in muscle strength of the small muscles of the foot could be the reason.

The symptoms of underlapping toes may vary, depending on the severity of the deformity. In some people, toe deformities are flexible, and a simple release of the tendon in the bottom of the toe can straighten the toe. For those with a more rigid deformity, surgery may be necessary to remove a small portion of the bone in the toe.

When to See a Doctor

If you notice any deformities in your toes, it is essential to schedule an appointment with a foot specialist – known as a podiatrist. Dr Gilbert Huang DPM is a qualified podiatrist who can diagnose and treat all kinds of foot conditions. His expertise and experience make it possible to correct foot deformities while ensuring any pain is effectively addressed.


It may not be possible to prevent underlapping or overlapping toes entirely, but there are steps you can take to minimize your risk. Ensure you wear comfortable shoes with enough room to move your toes. Stretch your feet regularly, and avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or those with high heels.

In conclusion, if you notice any deformities in your toes, it’s essential to seek medical attention from a podiatrist like Dr Gilbert Huang DPM. Treatment for underlapping or overlapping toes varies based on the severity of the deformity. In mild cases, passive stretching and adhesive taping are effective, while surgical intervention is required for more severe deformities. Remember to wear comfortable shoes, stretch your feet regularly, and avoid shoes that are too tight to prevent the development of these foot conditions.