Too Many Toes!

A woman in Myanmar has recently been trying to help her infant daughter gain a world record for an unusual deformity called polydactyly. In the foot, polydactyly is a digital deformity where you have more than 5 toes, or digits. Polydactyly can also occur in the hand with extra fingers. While this may seem like a rare deformity that would only occur in far away parts of the world, polydactyly is actually a fairly common birth defect that can occur even here in Columbus!

The young girl in Myanmar was born with 12 fingers and 13 toes, tying the current world record. While the mother of the girl was excited that her daughter was displaying exceptional grip strength in her hands, the extra digits in her foot will likely cause foot pain and other foot problems if the toes are not surgically removed. It would be difficult to find shoes that would properly fit a widened foot with extra toes.

Any time a foot with extra toes, or even the usual number of toes, is crammed into an improperly fitting shoe pressure can push the digits together in an abnormal way. Pressure pushing the tips of the toes together and pressing on the side of the foot next to the big toe could lead to another common deformity called a bunion. A bunion is an enlargement in the joint, or sometimes the bone, at the base of the big toe. Because bunions can slowly develop when the first toe is overly angled toward the other toes, they can actually be prevented by avoiding shoes that would pinch your toes together. Even with preventative measures against bunions, people with flat feet or pronation syndrome are more likely to develop a bunion. Bunions can be painful when the enlargement on the middle side of the foot rubs against the shoe. The constant irritation of the area can even lead to arthritis in the joint at the bunion.

Babies are born with flat feet and the arch develops over time. Thus, in the child from Myanmar, the combination of flat foot and extra toes being pushed together lead to greatly increased chances of developing a bunion. To prevent other foot problems from developing, surgery would generally be the best way to deal with extra toes if they are causing pain. The only way to completely get rid of a bunion and all of its symptoms is also through surgery called a bunionectomy. Non-surgical methods are often tried first to relieve bunion symptoms and pain, but not the bunion itself. Some non-surgical treatments of bunions include: orthotics, specialized padding to relieve the pressure and thus constant irritation of the bunion, and night-time splints, which are most often used in young people whose bones are still developing. A skilled podiatrist can evaluate the bunion or polydactyl patient and recommend the best treatment to stop foot pain and prevent future foot problems! Hopefully the young girl in Myanmar will not only be included in the Guinness Book of World Records, but will also be added to the list of happy patients of podiatry and grow up with happy and healthy feet!!

Please visit for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.

By Dr. Animesh (Andy) Bhatia