It’s no secret the Internet is obsessed with Meghan Markle’s trendy fashion sensibility, but recently, she wore a pair of shoes that made headlines for a whole new reason. They showed her toes, and the world could finally see that her second toe was longer than her first. Shocking, right?
Jokes aside, having a second toe that’s longer than your first toe, aka your big or great toe, is super common. “It’s found in about 20% of the population,” Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, Vionic Innovation Lab expert and podiatrist at City Podiatry in New York City, tells Health. So there’s no reason to freak over Markle’s feet, but what you probably don’t know is there’s actually a name for this minor abnormality: Morton’s toe.
Morton's toe is genetic, Sutera says, and it’s typically nothing to worry about. It does, however, put more pressure on the second toe than the first, which can cause foot pain in some people. The increased pressure can also lead to painful corns or hard calluses on the second toe. Again, it’s annoying, but not serious.
“Toenail damage, ingrown nails, and nail injury is also very common from having a longer second toe, especially if you wear high heels, pointy, narrow, tight shoes, or are a runner,” Sutera says.
If you do have pain from Morton’s toe, your shoes could be the culprit. You want to make sure your second toe has enough room in each pair of shoes you own. That could mean sticking to shoes that have a roomier toe area and throwing away any that don’t.
“When we’re at a shoe store, it’s very common to measure for the great toe. You should measure for your longest toe,” Sutera says. “Over time, cramming your second toe into a shoe that doesn't fit well can cause pain, arthritis, and hammering.”
People with a longer second toe are also at greater risk of developing hammer toe, which is when the toe becomes permanently bent. It's just another reason to always wear shoes that fit properly, which Sutera says is the best treatment for Morton’s toe. Orthotics and metatarsal pads can also help balance and redistribute the weight across the ball of foot.
Although it’s rare, surgery can also be used to shorten the toe, but it's usually used in very severe cases and no other method has been successful in relieving pain.
So Morton’s toe shouldn’t hinder your (or Markle’s) everyday life all that much. But if it does, you should speak to a podiatrist. Interestingly, the condition is also known as “Greek foot,” and legend has it, having a larger second toe is associated with being a natural leader, having great intelligence, and even showing a royal demeanor….
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