Morton's Toe

Have you ever wondered why some people have bigger second toes than their first toe? This rare condition is called Morton’s Toe. It is a musculoskeletal dysfunction that strikes at least 20% of the total population. People with Morton’s Toe generally experience pain and difficulty in walking.

This is because of the excessive pronation of the affected foot.  If a person having the disorder carries excess weight, the longitudinal arch of his or her foot drops causing the ankle to roll inward. In addition, this makes the leg shortened or lengthened and at the same time is rotated internally. This in turn makes the foot look bigger and longer compared to the big toe.

Why the name Morton’s Toe?

The term Morton’s toe was coined after the name of the doctor who discovered it. He is Dr. Dudley Morton, a foot doctor who was popular during the 1930s. He is a well-acclaimed physician because of his numerous contributions in the field of orthopedic surgery and was noted to have written several journals and books about the subject matter.

In his books about Morton’s Toe, he explained that having a long second toe can incorrectly absorb pressure and trauma when it hits the ground. This causes a lot of strain and tension to the foot.

Therefore, it is imperative that if a person suffers from this condition, he or she must avoid different kinds of stress-inducing actions to the foot.

These are the actions that cause injury and trauma to the foot: mechanical stress, constriction to the muscles, improper posture when standing and walking, and vigorous activities that promotes lengthening of the legs.  Dr. Morton also noticed that most of those who had Morton’s toe was having gait changes and these people have had the unconscious movement of rotating their feet outwards.

Affected Population

Younger individuals who suffer from Morton’s Toe are less likely to experience the symptoms associated with the dysfunction. Because younger people are more active and stronger, the pain receptors and nerves in the muscles are not that prevalent compared to those in aged individuals.

Older people are more sedentary and less active which is why they are more prone to experience the symptoms, especially pain which is the most common and difficult symptom to handle.

If you have this disorder and you’re an athlete, chances are, the athletic activities that you are engaged in can speed up and worsen the wear and tear on your joints and ligaments. This is an unfortunate event that would probably conclude the end of your athletic interest and activities.

One of the other downsides to suffering from Morton’s Toe is the possibility that you may also contract Metatarsalgia, but this subject is covered in a different article on our site.

Treating Morton’s toe is quite a long process and it involves various steps and interventions to fix the problem.

About the Surgical Procedure

Surgery is the best option for this condition and the prognosis after the surgical procedure is promising.  Generally, the surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, but the patient has to be assessed thoroughly months or weeks before the operation.

The healthcare team evaluates the patient’s ambulatory ability and balance, and the neurovascular status of the foot. Additionally, they consider the availability of assistance at home and the structural characteristics of the home when planning for care during the first few days after the surgery.

Recovery process

During the day of the procedure, neurovascular assessments of the exposed toe are carried out every 1 to 2 hours for the first 24 hours, which is essential to monitor the function of the nerves and the perfusion of the tissues.

If the patient is discharged within several hours after the surgery, the healthcare team will teach the patient and family how to assess for signs of complications such as swelling, loss of blood circulation evident by a bluish coloration at the site, motion, and sensation.

If complications arise after the surgery, the patient will experience all these conditions and pain will increase even more.  Therefore to control the pain experienced by the patient, the affected foot must be elevated on several pillows when he or she is sitting or lying.

Ice packs are applied intermittently during the first 24 to 48 hours to control the swelling and provide some pain relief. Analgesics may be used to control the pain too, but instructions on how to take the medication must be strictly followed to avoid other complications.

Post-Operative Care

After each successful operation, the patient is encouraged to improve his or her mobility. Some are allowed to walk on the heel and progress to weight-bearing as tolerated.

Other patients are restricted to non-weight-bearing activities. Assistive devices are also used to support the patient in standing and when walking. The patient is also informed about the risk of having an infection brought about by the surgical wound. Care must be taken to protect the wound from dirt and moisture.

If the patient takes his or her bath, a plastic bag over the dressing is applied to prevent it from getting wet. It is essential to give importance to the care and prevention of postoperative infections because this may complicate the condition and would lead to a possibility of a generalized infection known as Sepsis. So patients must always be extra cautious in taking care of themselves after their surgery.

An individual who is born with Morton’s Toe doesn’t really have the option to avoid the disorder since they are already born with it.  All he or she can do is implement preventive measures in order to manage a sense of comfort and ease while doing activities of daily living.

Choosing the right kind of footwear and avoiding activities that will cause stress to the foot are essential ways to deal with it.

Regular follow-up consultations with a health care specialist are also good ways to be aware of the dos and don’ts in handling the dysfunction. There are support groups to that deal with the psychological stress if an individual is suffering from depression and stress due to the condition.  What’s important to note is that having Morton’s Toe is not the end of the world. It’s only a matter of disposition and outlook.