It can be shocking news for parents when their newborn child is born with more toes than normal. When a child is born with more than 10 fingers or toes, it is known as polydactyly. Polydactyly literally means having many digits. This condition is not very common and it occurs in roughly 2 out of 1000 lives along with many patients having a positive family history of others with polydactyly. Polydactyly has been linked to having a genetic cause and has a dominant inheritance pattern, and can be recessive when associated with other conditions.
Types of Polydactyly
This condition can present in different forms ranging from a fully-functional toe (bones, nerves, and blood supply) or be a non-functioning skin tag type of toe (no bones). A classification system has been established for the different types of polydactyly based on where they are located and/or the shape of the underlying bones. The two main types of polydactyly are: preaxial and postaxial.
- Preaxial – with this type of polydactyly, there is an extra toe on the side of the big toe. Additionally, there are different types of polydactyly that involve the medial ray and include the following:
- A duplicate of the 1st digit/toe
- The big toe having three phalange bones rather than two (known as polydactyly of a triphalangeal first digit)
- Polydactyly of the 2nd digit/toe
- Polysyndactyly – this is an extra toe that is fused with another toe by skin
- Postaxial – this type is the most common and refers to the extra toe being on the side next to the little toe (or 5th digit). This type of polydactyly has additional types that include:
- Duplicated 5th metatarsal
- Having a T- or Y-shaped metatarsal bone
- Vestigial digit – this is an extra digit that does not have any bones and acts as a skin tag
How will this affect my child’s life?
In many cases, having polydactyly does not cause health problems, and many people with the extra toe can live their lives with it. However, depending on the type of polydactyly, it can be difficult to find appropriately sized shoes to fit your child, and some shoes may cause pain. There are several conservative treatment options available and include: padding, wider shoe types, and wearing shoes with extra depth. If the extra toe needs to be removed surgery can be done early in childhood.
If your child was born with an extra toe or you know someone with an extra toe that has been causing them pain, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona, and have all your treatment options presented to you and learn more about your child’s condition to ensure you and your child continue to maintain healthy feet.