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How to stop toes from crossing over

Updated April 17, 2017

Pain in the second toe and toe joint is often a telltale sign of an underlying health condition of the foot joint, which leads to a toe deformity known as "crossover toe." Crossed-over toes occur for a variety of reasons, including having a larger second toe; a bunion deformity; an overstrained calf muscle; or an unstable foot arch. While this toe deformity is often a result of poor foot mechanics and constant weight on this area of the foot, there are ways to reduce pain and prevent toe crossover.

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  1. Discontinue the use of high heels or shoes with heels on them. Instead, opt for a comfortable pair of orthotic shoes that provide plenty of support in the area near the painful toe.

  2. Keep the toe supported by finding a pair of shoes or shoe inserts that keep the toes slightly elevated. This forces the foot to lie at a slight angle, with the heel absorbing most of the weight, instead of the ball of your foot, near the toes.

  3. Check to make sure the padding inside the shoe supports the arch of your foot. Many people prone to experiencing crossover toe have unstable arches, which causes the ball of the foot to absorb most of the weight. To counteract this, find a shoe with correct arch support.

  4. Move the toes around in the shoes to make sure that they're not overly tight. Find a pair of shoes that provides a snug fit and comfortable support without placing additional pressure on the toes.

  5. Place a few ice cubes in a plastic Ziploc-type bag and place it inside a clean sock or clean rag. Sit on your couch or a comfortable chair.

  6. Set the bag of ice on the area of the foot experiencing pain. Allow the ice bag to sit for 20 to 30 minutes for every hour you walked that day.

  7. Stay off the feet until the pain subsides. If you have to walk, wear flat shoes or no shoes.

  8. Tip

    Never apply ice directly to the skin; always place it inside a cloth or rag first. If you notice your foot or toe pain gets progressively worse, make an appointment to see a doctor, who can recommend the proper treatment to help prevent the toe from crossing over.


    Once the toe begins to cross over, there's no way to move it back into place without surgery. Therefore, it's imperative to begin treatment early.

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Things You'll Need

  • Orthotic shoes
  • Angular insoles
  • Ice cubes
  • Ziploc-type bag
  • Clean sock or clean rag

About the Author

Victoria Ramirez has been writing professionally since 2009. She has a background in health and human services, and contributes her expertise to several online publications. Ramirez received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from California State University, Bakersfield, where she graduated with honors in 2004.

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