Your Total Foot Care

Overlapping and Underlapping Toe

Our feet are essential for mobility and stability, but sometimes they don’t function as they should. Toe deformities, such as overlapping and underlapping toes, can cause discomfort, pain, and embarrassment. These conditions can also interfere with our ability to walk, run, and participate in physical activities. In this blog article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for overlapping and underlapping toes, helping you make an informed decision about your foot health.

Understanding Overlapping and Underlapping Toe:

Overlapping Toes:

Overlapping toes, also known as toe crowding, occur when one toe lies on top of or overlaps with an adjacent toe. This condition can affect any toe but is most commonly seen between the third and fourth toes. Overlapping toes can be flexible, meaning they can be manually straightened, or rigid, where they remain fixed in the overlapping position.

Underlapping Toes:

Underlapping toes, also referred to as curly toes, occur when one or more toes turn downward and appear to sit beneath the adjacent toe. This condition often affects the fifth toe but can involve other toes as well. Similar to overlapping toes, underlapping toes can be flexible or rigid.

Causes of Overlapping and Underlapping Toes:

  1. Genetics: Some people may be predisposed to toe deformities due to their genetic makeup. Congenital overlapping and underlapping toes can be inherited from parents or grandparents.
  2. Ill-fitting shoes: Wearing tight or narrow shoes can cause the toes to shift and become misaligned. High heels and pointed-toe shoes can also contribute to toe deformities.
  3. Arthritis: Arthritis can cause joint inflammation and stiffness, leading to toe deformities and other foot conditions.
  4. Trauma: Injuries to the foot or toes can cause misalignment and overlapping or underlapping toes.

Symptoms of Overlapping and Underlapping Toes:

The symptoms of overlapping and underlapping toes may vary depending on the severity of the condition. Here are some common symptoms:

  1. Pain: Overlapping and underlapping toes can cause pain and discomfort, particularly when walking or wearing shoes.
  2. Redness and swelling: The affected toes may become red and swollen, indicating inflammation.
  3. Calluses and corns: Misaligned toes can create pressure points, leading to the formation of calluses and corns.
  4. Difficulty walking: Overlapping and underlapping toes can affect gait and balance, making it challenging to walk or run.

Treatment Options for Overlapping and Underlapping Toes:

Non-Surgical Approaches:

  • Toe Exercises and Stretching: Specific exercises and stretches can help strengthen and stretch the muscles in the toes, promoting proper alignment.
  • Toe Splints and Orthotics: Splints or orthotic devices can be used to straighten and support the toes, providing relief and preventing further overlapping or underlapping.
  • Padding and Taping: The use of padding or taping techniques can help alleviate discomfort and encourage the toes to assume a more natural position.
  • Toe spacers: Toe spacers can be used to separate overlapping toes and prevent them from rubbing against each other.

Surgical Interventions:

In severe or rigid cases where non-surgical methods do not provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered. Surgical procedures aim to correct the alignment of the toes by releasing tight tissues, realigning bones, or adjusting the positioning of tendons and ligaments.

Preventing Overlapping and Underlapping Toes:

  • Proper Footwear:

Choose shoes that provide enough space for your toes to move freely. Opt for footwear with a wide toe box that allows your toes to spread naturally.

  • Toe Exercises:

Regularly perform exercises and stretches that target the muscles and tendons in your feet and toes. This can help maintain flexibility and prevent muscle imbalances.

  • Foot Care and Maintenance:

Practice good foot hygiene and care. Keep your feet clean, dry, and moisturized. Regularly trim your toenails straight across to prevent them from digging into adjacent toes.

  • Regular Check-ups:

Visit a podiatrist or foot specialist for regular check-ups, especially if you have a family history of toe misalignment. Early detection and intervention can prevent the progression of overlapping or underlapping toes.


Overlapping and underlapping toes can cause discomfort and affect our ability to walk and participate in physical activities. While these conditions can be congenital or acquired, there are several treatment options available to correct toe misalignment and relieve pain. By wearing proper footwear, performing toe exercises, and seeking appropriate medical intervention, you can effectively address overlapping and underlapping toes.

It’s important to consult with a podiatrist or foot specialist who can provide a thorough evaluation and recommend the most suitable treatment plan for your specific condition. They will consider factors such as the severity of the deformity, underlying causes, and your overall foot health.

Remember, early intervention is key to preventing further progression of toe deformities. By taking proactive steps to address overlapping and underlapping toes, you can improve your foot function, alleviate discomfort, and regain confidence in your stride.

In conclusion, overlapping and underlapping toes can be troublesome, but they are treatable conditions. Whether through conservative measures like exercises and orthotics or surgical intervention, there are effective options available to correct misalignment and alleviate pain. Don’t let toe deformities hold you back—seek professional guidance, prioritize foot health, and take steps towards restoring the natural alignment and function of your toes. Your feet will thank you for it!

Seek Relief from Overlapping and Underlapping Toes with Us Today!

Do you suffer from overlapping or underlapping toes? These conditions can cause discomfort, pain, and even limit your mobility. Don’t let them affect your quality of life any longer. Seek expert care from Your Total Foot Care Specialist, where our team of experienced podiatrists can provide you with personalized treatment plans to alleviate your symptoms.

At Your Total Foot Care Specialist, we understand that overlapping and underlapping toes can have a significant impact on your daily life and cause foot pain. That’s why we offer a range of treatment options to address these foot pain and conditions. Our skilled foot doctors will evaluate your foot pain condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment approach for your needs.

We believe that every patient deserves the highest level of foot care and attention. Make an appointment at 281.395.FEET (3338) or send us an email at . Walk-in appointments are available at our offices in Katy, Memorial, Galleria, Cypress, and Copperfield.  Don’t let overlapping and underlapping toes continue to give you foot pain. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards improved foot health.