Protecting Your Digits
They wiggle, they curl, they patter, and they dance. You can show them off in sandals or protect them in covered shoes. Sometimes they’re even ticklish. Your toes are a valuable part of your foot structure. Keeping them healthy is part of maintaining good foot care; unfortunately, they are often forgotten and neglected, cramped in your shoes and ignored. Failing to pay proper attention to them can result in toe problems.
As small as they are, all your toes are important for normal walking. You use them to help balance, stabilize your steps, and push off the ground. When they are injured or compromised, the effect is both painful and limiting. Fortunately, most conditions affecting your digits can be treated easily by an experienced podiatrist like Dr. Sanjay Patel using purely conservative measures. Some of the most common toe problems include:
This condition affects the big toe. When the digit becomes displaced toward its smaller neighbors, it forces the joint at the metatarsal to bulge outward. Often the bump rubs uncomfortably against footwear and may make walking or running more difficult.
When the connectors that hold your toes do not pull evenly for any reason, the toes can begin to curl under, taking a claw-like form. Usually this uncomfortable position also makes it difficult to walk. Over time, the toes can become permanently stuck in the clenched position if not treated.
Similar to claw toes, one or more of the small digits becomes stuck in a bent position, but for hammertoes, only the middle joint is affected. Unusual pressure on the ball of the foot can strain the toes and encourage them to bend. This needs to be remedied to prevent the deformity from becoming permanent.
A common problem in children, intoeing exists when the toes appear to turn inward when the knees face straight forward. Several different underlying issues can cause the problem. If addressed early, a professional like Dr. Sanjay Patel can help straighten out the feet and monitor any other problems that could cause this gait abnormality.
This is also known as a bone spur underneath the nail. Something, like a trauma to the toe, causes the body to develop a spur just under the toenail. This presses on the hard and soft tissues and makes the toe generally uncomfortable. It can also cause the nail to deform or separate.
When a powerful force hyperextends the big toe, it damages the soft tissues in the first joint, including the connectors and the cartilage. This causes swelling and weakness in the foot and compromises your stability. Without proper treatment, you’re more likely to reinjure the joint and have trouble walking later.
Other problems in the toes can include digital deformity, hallux limitus, hallux rigidus, overlapping and underlapping toes, and hallux varus.
If you’ve injured your toes, or have noticed any changes in your digits, have them examined. Toe problems frequently are easy to remedy at first but become complicated and chronically painful when ignored. Rather than waiting for complications to develop, contact Dr. Sanjay Patel at Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C. for an appointment or more information. You can reach either of our convenient office locations by filling out the form on the website contact page, or by calling: (203) 876-7736 for the Milford office, or (203) 288-4055 for the Hamden location.