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Crossover Toe: A Seemingly Common Toe Problem

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You can totally see it in the photo.

My Mom is standing next to my two sons at the Oregon coast. Because it was warm that day, she is wearing flip flops. And right there in the picture, clear as a bell, you can see how the second toes on each of her feet are sitting on top of her big toes.

I had thought I was seeing things when I first noticed her toes criss-crossing onto the other ones. To be honest with you, it was pretty much creeping me out to see her toes looking so odd. But now I had photogenic proof of her unusual-looking piggies.

The next time she came to visit me, I noticed she had Band-Aids on both feet holding the wandering toes in place. I decided to ask her about it and she breezily brushed it all aside, saying that yes, her toes were crossing over each other but it didn’t hurt at all and she just used Band-Aids now and then to keep everyone in place.

Later that day, I tried to manually make my second toe sit on top of my big toe. Not an easy feat, no pun intended. And not exactly pain-free either.

Since my Mom was obviously not concerned about it and hadn’t seemed to have spoken with her doctor about it either, I decided to take matters into my own hands and bring up trusty old Google on my computer. I typed in “toes crossing over”, thinking that I wouldn’t get any matches at all. Instead, I got thousands.

In fact, the first website that popped up even gives my Mom’s toe ailment a name: Crossover Toe. And it included a ton of information and even some illustrations of exactly what I saw in the photo and in person too.

In case you are curious, here is the link:


As the article explains, Crossover Toe is a progressive and common condition where slowly the second toe begins to move and eventually sit atop the big toe. According to the information, if caught in the early stages it can be treated. But from what I can gather, my Mom’s symptoms are severe enough that she is probably out of luck at this point. And she is apparently lucky to be pain-free. From the article, it sounds like for most people Crossover Toe typically causes a lot of discomfort.

I honestly had no idea this was a common thing. Do you or anyone you know have Crossover Toe? If so, what have you done to treat it, if anything? I’m hoping to gently bring it up with my Mom again at some point to see if maybe there is something that she can do to reverse it, so I’d welcome any ideas you might have.

Add a Comment10 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Great post full of useful tips! My site is fairly new and I am also having a hard time getting my readers to leave comments. Analytics shows they are coming to the site but I have a feeling “nobody wants to be first Group Fitness Coogee

September 4, 2013 - 3:11am
EmpowHER Guest

I come from a huge Italian family, and I have 5 first cousins--all female-- who have had surgery for various problems w/their feet. I tripped and tore a ligament in my foot, and now my 2nd toe is migrating.
I'm 61, so apparently this can occur at any time if you're genetically vulnerable.

July 1, 2012 - 9:09am
EmpowHER Guest

Be careful. My mother has it, and I now am starting to get the cramps and symptoms she had on the same one foot she has it on and it has been a little painful. Oddly, the thing that is helping me is the Vibram 5 fingers. They look corny, but hey, I can't walk barefoot without them, pain free with them on. Regular shoes, ouch, sneaks, ouch. No night cramping either when I wear them throughout the day. It must be because it keeps the toes separated.

February 28, 2012 - 11:41am
EmpowHER Guest

Does any body have cross over toe over the third toe? Is it the same just a different toe? When I look at my feet they look the same and like nothing is wrong, but, the ball of my right foot feels like it has a ball in it and the second toe is a little longer than the big toe and seems to push over toward the third toe. Just wondering if its the same or different from the "cross over toe" you talk about.

January 4, 2012 - 2:16pm
EmpowHER Guest

My wife is from Vietnam but of Chinese descent. Her mother told her that the Chinese traditionally called Vietnam the "cross-toe country" (pn. "gao-jie") because of the prevalence of crossover toe there.

September 3, 2011 - 7:37am
EmpowHER Guest

Wow. I just this afternoon was diagnosed with early crossover toe. I had never heard of it before, but after searching the web my symptoms indeed fit the descriptions. Mine is not noticably crossing at this point. I am at an early stage where I at times have extreme pain in the ball of my left foot and it feels as though the ball of my foot at the base of my second toe is trying to come through the bottom of my foot. This all began a little over a year ago, right after I had my knee replaced. Calf raises were part of the rehab exercises, and that really aggrevated my foot. I just assumed I had arthritis that I would just have to live with, but after a recent visit with my family doctor I was sent to a podiatrist. My prescribed treatment is 6 days of oral steroids to eliminate any possible swelling; a flat pad under my foot that has a strap of elastic that loops around the errant toe to keep it extended during waking hours; and a foam spacer to wear between my big and second toes 24/7 to keep the toe aligned. As I understand, this is all to give the support ligaments/tendons time to calm down and heal. If this is successful it will take 4-6 weeks. I am hopeful. Just wearing the gizmos since mid-afternoon has given me significant pain relief.

August 11, 2009 - 7:25pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

My mum is 80 years old and has crossover toes on both feet. Surgery has been ruled out on account of her age and history of mini-strokes. She's in constant pain and foamspacers to separate toes do not benefit for long. The big toes on both feet are now discoloured from pressure of the second toes on them. She takes care of her feet, changing dressings daily but is frustrated at the apparetn lack of options for pain relief. any help/suggestions would be very much appreciated. Marie

January 7, 2010 - 9:17am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Marie - I'm sorry to hear your mom's in constant pain from crossover toes. I found an article in a journal for podiatrists that discusses several treatment options, including steroid therapy:.


The following article also lists several treatment options, including shoe modifications and orthotic devices.


Do you think any of these options could help? Perhaps you could go with your mom to see her physician and discuss what can be done, short of surgery, to give her some relief from the pain.


January 7, 2010 - 6:11pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Pat Elliott)

Thank you Pat for your kind thoughts and swift reply. I'll check the journals you mention and will make more enquiries about treatments with her GP. warm regards, Marie

January 8, 2010 - 3:58am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

You're very welcome!

January 8, 2010 - 5:21pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.