Posts for tag: big toe
Arthritis affects 40 million people in the US. There are many types of arthritis and it can manifest in almost any part of the body so it’s difficult at times to keep track of what’s what. The most common arthritic condition of the foot is called Hallux Rigidus. No, it’s not a spell from Harry Potter; Hallux is a name for the big toe and Rigidus means it has become rigid, unable to bend.
Hallux Rigidus is a degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis), meaning it can occur from the everyday wear and tear you put on your feet. You are at greater risk for hallux rigidus if you have a family history of arthritis or have a preexisting structural abnormality (fallen arches, excessive pronation, etc.). One in every 40 adults over 50 years old are affected by this condition.
READ MORE: Osteoarthritis
The toe becomes stiff because the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the large toe becomes inflamed and hinders proper movement. This leads to a big problem because our big toe needs to bend every time we take a step.
Symptoms of Hallux Rigidus include pain and of course inability to bend the big toe. At first, this may be minor and aggravated by cold or damp weather. You may have trouble with certain activities and movements such as running or squatting. Inflammation of the joint can lead to swelling, redness, and difficulty wearing shoes. Eventually, bone spurs may occur, and the toe can become completely immobile.
Diagnosis requires a physical examination where your podiatrist will test the flexibility and range of motion in your joint. They may also take x-rays to check the progression of arthritis or look for bone spurs. Like most podiatric ailments, if caught early enough, Hallux Rigidus has some simple non-surgical solutions.
You guessed it, wearing the right shoes that don’t put undue pressure on or squeeze the toes can help keep your big toe moving. Orthotic devices to correct structural abnormalities, corticosteroid injections, and foot exercises or physical therapy are all conservative treatment methods that help stop the progression of this painful condition.
READ MORE: Footwear for Spring
The stiffer your big toe becomes, the less chance there is of keeping a full range of motion. If you feel that your big toe just isn’t the same as it used to be and is keeping you from living a healthy and active lifestyle call the FAAWC for an appointment today.
This month, we’ve talked about ligaments and we’ve talked about tendons. Now we need to talk about your bones. Your feet have over a quarter of the bones in your entire body (26 in each foot to be exact). We rely on our feet to get us through everyday life, but everyday life might be getting back at us with damage to our bones.
Bones are rigid, unlike tendons, muscles, and ligaments, which bend and stretch. If you break a toe from a sudden event, you usually know by the immediate pain and the amount of cursing that accompanies it. Not every broken toe comes from a sudden trauma though, and the signs of a slow stress fracture aren’t always as obvious as a sudden injury.
A stress fracture is brought on by repetitive motion. This could be from sports or just from everyday activities. Over time, hairline cracks in a small bone can turn to big cracks and eventually full breaks. The early warning signs of a fractured toe are subtle, but if you pay attention to your feet (like I always tell you to!), you should be able to recognize when your feet just don’t feel right. The first sign is pain. I say it time, and again, pain is not normal. Any sudden pain that occurs during a specific motion or activity is bad. Pain that gets worse during activities and then feels immediately better when you rest can be indicative of a stress fracture.
READ MORE: Don't Stress Over Stress Fractures
As the fracture deepens, the pain will get worse and stick around longer. It may now be accompanied by swelling, bruising, or tenderness. You may find it difficult to put on a shoe or even walk on the fracture. Seeing a podiatrist before you get to this point is important. Stress fractures are more likely to occur in people who train on hard surfaces (like concrete), repeat certain motions (like jumping and running), or wear improper shoes with little cushioning.
Even though treatment is generally straightforward, these injuries take a lot of time to heal. Your podiatrist may recommend a splint or boot to immobilize the joint and protect the toe. During this time, you may have to sit out of your favorite activities until the fracture heals. If you return to the same activity too soon, you’ll continue to damage to your bones, and more drastic treatment options may need to be taken. During your healing time, try activities like swimming or cycling which take pressure off the feet.
READ MORE: Avoid Athlete's Foot at the Pool
You can avoid stress fractures by taking proper precautions such as good shoes for activity, varied training surfaces, and paying attention to early warning signs. If you think you have a fractured toe, stop all activity, use the R.I.C.E. method for symptom treatment, and make an appointment with the FAAWC. Your toes will thank you.
During winter time we don’t spend a lot of time looking at our feet, as they are usually bundled up in thick socks and warm shoes, but there are certain things we always need to pay attention to. One of those things is our toenails. Ingrown toenails occur when the toenail grows down into the skin, rather than outward as it’s supposed to. This condition is easily diagnosable since you can clearly see the skin growing over the nail. This may be accompanied by pain, redness, swelling, or even pus if infection is present.
Ingrown toenails occur on the big toe in nine out of ten cases, but other toes may be affected or even fingernails. Unfortunately, the majority of ingrown nails occur due to simple genetics. If you have larger-than-average toenails, but average size toes, this can lead to your nails growing down into the skin of your toe. People with particularly thick toenails or naturally curved nails may also be at higher risk of ingrown toenails. Although some ingrown nails may not be bothersome, secondary factors can exacerbate your condition to the point where you need to see a podiatrist.
READ MORE: Say Goodbye to Ingrown Toenails
One of the most common culprits of painful or infected ingrown toenails is improper nail cutting. Don’t cut your toenails too short, as this increases the chance they will grow into the skin. Nails should always be cut into a straight line, not a curve, to avoid edges progressing into the sides of your toe. Acute nail damage, such as stubbing your toe forcefully, can lead to misshapen nails that become ingrown. Ingrown nails may also develop if your toes are constantly squeezed together, either by tight shoes or conditions such as bunions that turn the toes toward each other.
Although cutting your toenail away from the skin might temporarily solve your problem, it will simply grow back the same way unless a surgical correction is made. Surgery is a scary word for most people, but fixing an ingrown toenail is a breeze and the procedure can actually be completed in a single office visit. First, a local anesthetic is applied, numbing the area so you remain blissfully ignorant to any feeling.
Next, the nail borders are removed; a fancy way of saying your nail is cut into a narrower shape and the folded skin is disconnected. In some cases, the entire toenail may be removed. Lastly, the nail matrix is chemically cauterized to eliminate the offending nail from growing back improperly. The matrix of your nail is the tissue it forms on and it is responsible for the length, size, and shape of the nail. The “cauterization” is actually just the application of a strong chemical that prevents the nail from growing back.
Almost all of our ingrown toenail treatments are done right in our office in a single visit (even if it’s your first visit). With a proper dressing and a loose (though protective!) shoe, most patients are able to resume normal activity within 24 hours, though extra care should be taken for several weeks while the toe heals. These procedures boast a 99% success rate with no ingrown toenail reoccurrence. Stop cutting away your painful ingrown nail and come see your podiatrist for a lasting solution. It’s really as simple as that.
READ MORE: Choosing Shoes to Avoid Foot Issues
We have covered a lot of topics in our past blog posts, but something we haven’t really touched on is actually one of the most common foot ailments: Bunions. With over 3 million cases each year in the United States alone, bunions (aka. hallux valgus) are a common sight in podiatry offices.
A bunion occurs when the big toe pushes against the adjoining toes, forcing the big toe joint (metatarsophalangeal joint) outward. This creates a visible deformity of the foot and can be accompanied by redness, swelling, pain, and stiffness. Since this deformity can become quite pronounced, many people are able to “self-diagnose” the issue. As you can see in this photo, along with a bad case of farmers-tan, this gentleman probably noticed his bunions and sought treatment from his podiatrist.
There is a debate in the podiatric community about the cause of bunions. On the one side, podiatrists argue that bunions are formed due to genetic conditions such as flat feet, abnormal bone structure, or even certain neurological conditions. On the other side, we have those who say tight or ill-fitting footwear is the sole cause. This view tends to have the stronger following and is backed up by research. In a study of cultures that did not wear shoes, no bunions were found. That’s a pretty strong argument.
So, does this mean that everyone who wears shoes could form a bunion? Well, no, but with certain shoes, absolutely yes. Just as water slowly wears down rock, constant pressure from your shoes can force your toes to move in unnatural directions. Pointed toe shoes tend to be the biggest culprit. Shoes that are too narrow will eventually push your big toe towards or even over or under the adjoining toes. As this happens, the joint protrudes and becomes irritated. The large visible bump is partially caused by an inflamed bursal sac. Bunions may also occur on the outer side of the foot at the base of the little toe. This is called a Tailor’s Bunion.
READ MORE: Bursitis
So, what do I do if I have a bunion? Well, the first thing to do is go see your podiatrist. Even before you see a bump, if you have consistent pain in your big toe joint, make an appointment. For some bunions, treatment can be as simple as changing the type of shoes you wear or adding orthotics and padding. However, these options treat the symptoms and prevent worsening of the bunion, they do not take care of the underlying problem. For that, a simple surgical procedure may be required. Options include shaving down the bony protrusion and realigning the big toe into its proper position. Your podiatrist will discuss all the options with you and help choose the best procedure for your exact condition. Surgeries are typically outpatient procedures with a 6 to 8 week recovery time, during which crutches or orthopedic casts may be used.
If you have pain, redness, stiffness, or protrusion at the base of your big toe, go see your podiatrist. Early treatment means better healing and foot health. Don’t live your life with pain! (And don’t wear tight shoes!)
photo credit: Badly Drawn Dad <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/249661028">20060903_Pre-Op</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">(license)</a>
…Could be gout. Gout is a very painful type of arthritis that results from the build up of uric acid in the body. Uric acid is produced when our bodies break down purines (found in our body tissues and many rich foods). Normally, uric acid is filtered through our kidneys and leaves the body peacefully, but when uric acid builds up, it can attack and lead to very painful results. Three different things can occur with the buildup of uric acid: the acid can crystallize leaving deposits in the joints, deposits of uric acid can form lumps under your skin, or you may develop kidney stones. While those last two don’t sound pleasant either, it’s the first result that causes the painful condition of gout.
A sudden attack of gout has been known to wake people up from their sleep. The uric acid crystallizes and builds up between the joints of the big toe causing pain, redness, swelling, heat, and stiffness. These symptoms can also occur in the ankle, heel, or even wrists and fingers.
Gout is known as the disease of kings and for a very good reason. A person may be more likely to develop gout if they are a man, are overweight, drink too much alcohol, eat many foods rich in purines, or have family members with the disease. The most purines are found in liver, seafood, alcohol, duck, bacon, venison and other rich foods, or in other words, exactly what a king would eat. Most famously, both Henry VIII of England and Leonardo da Vinci were sufferers of gout.
It’s too bad that they couldn’t visit the FAAWC, because our podiatrists can help diagnose and treat your gout. Diagnosis is fairly straightforward and will usually involve a family history with a physical examination. Fluid may be drawn from the joint to look for crystals. Treatment involves oral medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, or medicines to lower the amount of uric acid in the blood. As long as you stick with your medication regimen and stay away from foods high in purines, you can rest easy knowing your gout is unlikely to reappear.
If you think you may be suffering from gout, call the FAAWC today to book an appointment. Relief from your pain is only a step away.