Extra Toes for Counting

By Mid-Michigan Foot & Ankle Center
September 13, 2017
Tags: Polydactyly   deformity  

When we first learn to count we usually use our fingers and our toes to help assist us. As we grow older, we typically don’t need to continue this practice. Although we don’t use this counting method, we still have the same 10 fingers and 10 toes that helped us out all along. Our toes assist us every day, from extra digits to count on, to being important parts of our mobile lives. They keep us balanced, standing straight, and stable every day. Without them, we would be limited in our movements. Did you know that some people have an extra toe to use for counting or movement? This phenomenon is known as polydactyly.

Polydactyly usually occurs in about 3.6 to 13 cases per 1,000 live births in African Americans, while it only occurs in 0.3 to 1.3 cases per 1,000 live births in Caucasians.  Both the male and female have an equal chance of having an extra toe or other digit - no sex is dominant in this deformity.

The primary cause of polydactyly is thought to be due to genetics. If you have an extra digit, you can thank your parents, their grandparents, and their forefathers for the little gift that has been left for you.

These extra digits usually occur on border (outer) toes. Sometimes there is only a small extra nub present at birth. At other times, an entire toe is duplicated and you end up with eleven or more toes. This extra toe can have a nail, tendon, and a vascular structure similar to that of a regular toe.

In order to treat polydactyly, a corrective surgery must occur. Usually this corrective surgery is complex due to the removal of the extra bones, tendons, and other pieces of the duplicated toe.  Surgery on an infant is recommended between 6-9 months. Usually infants are old enough to be able to tolerate the burden of surgery and anesthesia during this age.

If you have a child that has an extra toe, do not fret. Mid-Michigan Foot & Ankle Center located in Saginaw and Bay City, Michigan can help. Podiatrist Dr. Andrew H. Cohen will examine the extra digit and determine whether or not surgery is appropriate. He will consult with the parent or guardian to help them make an informed decision regarding their child. If surgery is deemed necessary, he will work closely with the child and their family during the entire process. Call 989-790-8009 or make an appointment online today. We are here to help.