Morton’s Toe & Chronic Pain


I have noticed that nearly everyone with chronic pain complaints walk with their feet pointed  either outside (duck feet; 80%) or inside (pigeon toes; 20%). I have concluded that walking with turned feet is linked to many pain symptoms.

I have discovered that putting a shim underneath the ball of the foot, behind the big toe, almost always results in “turned” feet now walking straight ahead. This may literally be a 50 cent solution to a multi-billion dollar problem.

I am personally convinced that straight is much better than turned. For less than $4.00 and a few minutes of your time, you can experiment and find out if this holds true for you.

The knee is actually fairly complicated, but in reality mostly acts like a simple hinge. Like front end alignment in a car, I think that feet and knees pointed “straight ahead” results in much less wear and fewer problems in knees, hips, spine and everything connected to them.

Roll your pants legs up a couple of turns so you can see your feet. Take a few steps then stop. Are your feet pointed straight ahead or are they turned either in or out?  If they are pointing either slightly in or out, you may have a genetic condition called Morton’s Toe; which may be linked to pain symptoms. Making and using the shim is a very inexpensive experiment. If your discomfort is reduced, it was worth it. If not, you only spent about $4.00 to find out.

Dr. Dudley Morton discussed the condition of a short 1st metatarsal back in the late 1920’s. It is easily recognized; like the picture above, the notch between the first and second toe is deeper than the notch between the second and third toe. Most often, the second toe is also longer than the big toe. Dr. Janet Travell, personal physician for both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, researched and wrote about the relationship between “Morton’s toe” and chronic pain in the 1960’s. Google “Morton’s Toe”; you will find plenty of information  about the genetic condition and its’ probable relationship to chronic pain.

Whether you walk with feet turned out, or in, the femur (thigh bone) rotates; usually to the outside (laterally), but sometimes to the inside (medially). I believe this causes the ball at the head of the femur to impinge on the edges of the acitablum (hip socket). This results in  immediate discomfort, so the  pelvis rotates, usually to the front, but sometimes to the rear, resulting in less impingement and less pain. The result is poor posture. Spinal curves are thrown out of whack. Over time, compensation patterns cause dysfunctional posture; which results in trigger points and adhesion’s. So, even though this “pelvic tilt” posture is not ideal, it creates less dysfunction and pain than not tilting. However, some muscles become Hypertensive (locked short) while others become weak and inhibited, (locked long). In the short term, you can function. In the long term you suffer from tension and pain.

Ideally, men should have 0-10 degrees and women should have between 10 to 20 degrees of anterior tilt; assessed by visualizing a line between the ASIS and PSIS (front hip bone and posterior hip bone). Nobody should have posterior tilt. Your belt line is usually a reasonably accurate indicator of tilt.

Both Chronic muscle overuse or acute muscle injury cause some degree of “guarding” to protect the injured site. Guarding means that muscles are locked in a continuously contracting state. Guarding is the cause of  posture and movement patterns. If a muscle is tense and hard, or has “trigger points” at least some portion of that muscle is working virtually 24/7.  No wonder you feel fatigued.

I believe that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a symptom of multiple trigger points and guarding throughout the body. Your posture is not a result of “lazy” habits, but of major, minor and chronic insults (trauma) to your muscles.

Look at the posture chart on this page. Do you recognize yourself in any of the three columns? Have you looked at your feet? Do you have Morton’s Toe? Could there be a link between symptoms of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Restless Leg Syndrome, Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain, Knee Pain, Hip Pain, Low Back Pain, Tingling Leg or Legs, Sciatica, Plantar Fasciitis, TMJ, Sensitive Teeth… and  your feet?

Every person I know who has had a knee or hip replacement has Morton’s Toe. Coincidence? Maybe.

The definitive research about Morton’s Toe and its’ relation to chronic pain is found in the widely acclaimed medical textbook, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual written by Doctors Janet Travell and David Simons. According to Travell and Simons, Morton’s Toe creates instability in the ankle. The feet compensate by turning and sometimes flattening the arch. Physical stress from this abnormal posture promotes the development of myofascial trigger points (tiny contraction knots) in muscles throughout the body. “Morton’s Toe causes enough dysfunction in the legs and hips that it can be the unsuspected ultimate source of back pain, hip pain, knee pain, neck pain, chronic headaches, migraines and even TMJ.” Thus the name “Toe Clinic” to treat chronic pain.