Straightening The Toe - Treatment And Solutions for Toe Problems

Straightening The Toe - Treatment And Solutions for Toe Problems

Types     |     Causes     |     Symptoms     |     Treatment Options

The structure of the toes is what enables humans to stand stably on their two feet. It is the combination of these five digits on each foot connected with a combination of muscles, tendons, and nerves that enables activities like walking, standing, and everything that requires the use of the foot. There are a number of conditions and diseases that may affect the toes. Crooked toes are one of the most common problems associated with this joint. There are different types of crooked toes, for example, mallet, overlapped, claw, and hammer toes. They might cause problem in functioning and can also be painful.

Types of Toe Conditions

  • Overlapping Toes - This usually happens when one toe comes over or overlaps the other toe. It is characterized by redness in between two toes. There are three types of overlapping toes, namely, overlapping pinky toe, overlapping big toe, and underlapping toe. Underlapping toe occurs with the third, fourth, or fifth toe, when the toes underlap the other toes.
  • Hammer Toes – A hammer toe affects the first two joints of the toe. It makes the joint bend and raises the knuckle upward. An imbalance in the muscles near the two joints causes the joint to move downwards or upwards depending on the pressure.
  • Mallet Toes – This affects the last joint at the end of the toe. It causes the knuckle near the toenail to bend and point the toe tip upward giving it the shape of a mallet, and hence the name. Mallet toe and hammer toe are two different conditions but the similarities of the symptoms often confuse a person. Thus, it is important to get it diagnosed by a medical professional before any treatment is done. There are two types of mallet toes, rigid and flexible depending on whether one can move the joint or not.
  • Claw Toes – This usually looks like a combination of a mallet and a hammer toe event. It affects all three joints causing the second knuckle to bend upwards and last knuckle to curl underneath. It is misconceived as a muscle condition but is actually a result of the imbalance of the nerve functions in the toes.

 Straightening The Toe - Treatment And Solutions for Toe Problems

What are the causes of Toe Conditions?

Overlapping toes are usually caused by decreased muscle strength in the toes. Wearing tight shoes or high heeled shoes, in the case of women, can cause the muscles to get constricted and force one or more toes over the others. The existence of a hammertoe or a bunion on the foot can also lead to overlapping toes. Genetics also sometimes play a part in a person acquiring this condition.

High-heeled shoes are one of the main causes of hammer toe. The resistance of the toes to lie flat while wearing such constricting shoes results in the muscles to get imbalanced and thus causing hammer toe. A stub or jerk to the toe can also result in the toe to bend suddenly in an upward or downward position and remain there until treated. The chances of hammer toe increase with increasing age as the bones get weaker, and the chances of arthritis increase.

Wearing restrictive or improper footwear for a prolonged time is one of the major causes of mallet toe. The last joint of the toe is very delicate and hence even the slightest of pressures for a long time can cause damage to that joint. Arthritis is also a leading cause as the bones become weak, creating an imbalance of the muscles with the bones.

Unlike other toe conditions, claw foot is not a result of damaged or weak muscles but the imbalance of the nerve functions in the toe. One of the major causes of claw toe is rheumatoid arthritis. Other conditions such as diabetes, cerebral palsy, Charcot-Marie tooth disease, and stroke are also sometimes responsible for this condition. Alcoholism has often been connected to claw toes by many doctors and researchers.

Symptoms of Toe Conditions

Overlapping toes are characterized by redness between the affected toes and growing pain. Inflammation is also a sign but is not seen in all conditions. A person who is affected by overlapping toes often changes his way or style of walking which is usually not noticeable to them but to others. The bend in the toe is highly noticeable when it comes to hammer toe. Corns or calluses and excruciating pain while trying to move the first two toes are the initial signs of hammer toe. It also changes the way one stands or walks.

Symptoms of mallet toe include redness and soreness near the affected toe. A swelling might be noticed in the entire region surrounding the toe. The rubbing of the bent toe on shoes can cause the formation of corns or calluses. Ulcers may form if the person is suffering from diabetes.

In the scenario of a claw toe, the toe forms a claw like shape. It is often called a mixture of mallet toe and hammer toe. The ball joint is jutted upwards where as the middle joint is bent downwards making the toe look like a claw. The toes literally dig into the ground while walking and hence corns and calluses are a common result of claw toes.

These are the common signs that one has a major toe condition:

  • Redness and pain between the toes
  • Inflammation
  • Irritation
  • Growth of corns and calluses
  • Abnormal gait

What are the Precautions One Should Take to Avoid Toe Problems?

  • Giving Room to the Toes - Restricting the movement of the toes is one of the major causes of toe conditions and hence giving the toes adequate space to move can prevent many problems.
  • Avoid High-Heel Shoes - If you are genetically prone to toe problems or bone weaknesses, then it is advisable to avoid high-heeled shoes.
  • Always Consult a Specialist - If a toe problem isn’t diagnosed and treated on time, it can last for life and hence it is important to consult a specialist and get going with the treatment soon.

What are The Treatment Options?

Surgery is one of the last options. Surgery is a sure shot chance at correcting the conditions, but only in a condition where non-surgical methods are futile in treating the condition. Consult the doctor for more on how surgery can help. Non-surgical options are cost-effective and also easier to adapt to. There are number of non-surgical options which help in treating and sometimes preventing the condition to occur again.

  1. Toe separators are effective in keeping the toes away from each other and thus reducing the chances of friction between them. This reduces the chances of corns and calluses to appear on the feet.
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  1. Toe Splints keep the toe immobile thus avoiding any kind of further complications due to any jerks or improper movement of the joint.
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Pedifix Budin Toe Splint
  1. Gel tubes are sleeves that can be worn on the affected toe to reduce friction and also provide padding against jerks or hits to the toe. Toe loops also work in a similar way and can be worn on a number of toes together. Tightening the loops can also help correct the posture of the toe if the condition is in its early stages.
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  1. Toe cushions are basically worn to protect the toe from jerks and also from the formation of corns and calluses. They provide relief while walking or standing. The loop on the top can be worn on the affected toe and hence fix the position of the cushion.
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  1. Toe straighteners are harder than separators but are made to correct the shape of the toes. They are worn over the affected toe and help in reshaping the toe.
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Toe problems are curable but if not diagnosed and treated on time can stay for life. It is therefore very necessary to seek the right medical advice and use the right treatment options to avoid further complications.


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