Floating Toe Causes - Jeffrie C. Leibovitz, DPM

Floating Toe is One Magic Trick You Don’t Want to See

There are many different kinds of magic tricks people enjoy watching, including one type that reminds us a bit about a condition known as floating toe. Of course, when a magician uses sleight of hand or special devices to levitate an object, or even a person, it’s intentional. When the second toe lifts off the ground, it’s a problem.

Before we delve further into why a floating toe is an issue that needs to be addressed, let’s take a look at what it is and how it happens.

This condition can develop when a bunion pushes the second toe and over time, the second toe slides over or underneath its neighbor. Another cause is when the big toe joint loses motion (hallux limitus) and causes excessive pressure that weakens the plantar plate. The second toe begins to “magically” rise off the ground and above the other toes.

Okay, it’s not actually magic, but rather science. The plantar plate is a thick, ligament-type structure designed to prevent overextension of the toes. It is attached to the base of the toe bone and stops the toe from abnormal drifting. When weakened, the toe becomes able to rise.

Woman Walking Down the Beach

Besides a toe being pushed up or the plantar plate weakened, sometimes a floating toe will develop in response to physical trauma. An example of this kind of situation is waking up in the middle of the night, walking in the dark to get to the bathroom, and bumping your foot into something with a lot of force. This does tend to be rare, though. Most of the cases—approximately 95%—stem from big toe deformities.

Symptoms include pain or numbness under the second toe and can lead to excessive pressure on the other toes. When the toe is on the ground, it can carry its share of the workload. This is simply not the case when the toe is levitating. In addition, the condition is progressive and will get worse if left untreated.

As with any foot or ankle problem, it is best to get treatment at the earliest possible stage. Doing so will allow us to take measures to slow the condition’s progression. With that in mind, make sure you come in and see us as soon as you become aware of a floating toe, or any issue with your lower limbs. Call us at (317) 545-0505 for more information or contact us online today!