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"My 2nd and 3rd toes on both feet are beginning to sort of separate and look splayed out. What doctor should I see about this?"


I am 78 years old and in good health. My weight is appropriate and my blood pressure good. I walk 2 miles a day. About a year ago I noticed that the 2nd and 3rd toes on both feet were splaying apart. My 3rd toes are turned outward away from my big toes. There is no pain or discomfort, but I am concerned as to why this is happening. Should I see a primary physician, a podiatrist or a hand and foot specialist? I don't want to waste time and money by going to the wrong medical professional. Thanks so much.


First and foremost, excellent work in taking such good care of your health. Additionally, you are taking advantage of internet medical advice in precisely the appropriate manner, in that you realize that it should be used hand in hand with "on the spot" physician counsel. Now to your question: a primary physician would likely be able to allay concerns if the problem was one that is commonly found among his patient population.

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A geriatrician might best be able to normalize your exam in this manner, but would then refer you to a specialist for intervention or further clarification. If you are seeking a physician who will be best able to clearly define what process is causing this change in a single visit, however, you should seek the guidance of a specialist who treats this area daily. Either a podiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon specializing in this area would appropriately be able to describe the process that you are experiencing, as well as offer orthotics to prevent further "splaying" or recommend other intervention as they feel is needed. Alternatively, they would be able to tell you if there is nothing to do about the issue. If your insurance allows you to seek medical guidance from a specialist without going through a "gatekeeper" primary care doctor, you will most likely benefit most from initially seeing a specialist.

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