The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Walk This Way: Singer Steven Tyler’s Crossover Toe Deformity

Posted by on Friday, February 1st, 2013


Some things are meant to drift—debris in the surf, continents over the millennia, aimless people with nothing to prove—other things, like toes, not so much. And yet, many people out there suffer from a toe deformity characterized by strange drift over a neighboring toe. It’s called crossover toe deformity and if you have it, you’re certainly not alone. Even the rich, famous, and outrageous suffer the slings and arrows of crossover toes. Just look at professional rock star Steven Tyler! Years of pointy shoes, late nights, raucous stage theatrics, and general wear and tear have taken their toll on his feet. So what is it, how do you get it, and what can you do about it? Read on.



Crossover toe is just exactly what it sounds like: the second toe crosses over the big toe, lying uncomfortably atop it. There are several possible causes of the deformity: a longer second toe that’s under excessive pressure, taking the brunt of a person’s weight with each step; unstable arches; severe bunions; tight calf muscles; bad shoes; being female; and a genetic predisposition to the disorder. In each case supporting ligaments weaken and the second toe joint becomes unstable. Crossover toe deformity is often mistaken for Morton’s neuroma, especially in the early stages when pain is the only symptom.



While crossover toe might sound funny, it’s no joke. Before the visible signs of the condition begin, sufferers feel pain. This is a progressive disorder, meaning it gets worse over time. The best time to treat the condition is in its early stages, so be on the lookout for these symptoms:

  • Swelling under the second toe.
  • A strange feeling in the ball of the foot, like there’s a marble in the shoe or sock.
  • Pain, especially at the base of the second toe.
  • Difficulty wearing shoes.

In the early stages, before crossover begins, orthotic devices, braces, and RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) can help relieve pain and swelling, and promote healing. But once the toe begins crossing over, surgery is necessary to correct it. Mild deformities can often be treated with soft tissue procedures while severe deformities require osteotomy. In the latter case, a smooth wire will be used to stabilize the joint after realignment.


Despite his fortune, Steven Tyler hasn’t yet sought treatment for his crossover toe deformity. Instead, he’s had surgery for Morton’s neuroma! I don’t know if he was misdiagnosed or if he has co-morbid conditions, but that picture of his poor foot screams crossover toe. I think it’s time for a second opinion. If you have toe or forefoot pain, don’t wait. Visit The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.