There are many causes of toe pain, and there are many products and medications to assist with relief. Chiropractic care can also help people who suffer from toe pain.
Causes of Toe Pain
Toe pain can come from many sources. Gout and arthritis are often painful. Gout’s crystal deposits can cause swelling, especially around the big toe. Bunions and hammer toes are caused by footwear that is ill-fitting. The shoes lead to a “bony prominence along the edge of the foot”, and the toe joint can become bent. Corns and calluses are also caused by footwear. Claw toe is when the toe may not be able to straighten any longer, and the toe then points up or down. Even an ingrown toenail can lead to a lot of pain, especially if it becomes infected. Athletic activities, such as jumping and running, can lead to turf toe. This overuse injury strains the base of the big toe. In some cases, the toe may become sprained, such as when it is stubbed, or even fractured. Toe arthritis (hallux rigidus) is when the big toe’s base has osteoarthritis, a degenerative condition. If the small bones in the tendons attached to the big toe break, that is a sesamoid fracture. The foot’s outer edge may also fracture. Signs of this will include swelling, bruising, and pain. Tendonitis and trauma can also lead to many types of foot pain.
Traditional Treatments for Toe Pain
In the case of gout, people are often prescribed NSAIDs or other anti-inflammatory medications, pain relievers, and steroids. Of course, rest and dietary changes can also be helpful. With regard to hammer toe, claw toe, corns, calluses, and bunions, inserts and orthotics—along with better footwear—are the key. For many people, toe pain can occur from wearing the wrong shoes. The shoes might be unpadded, too tight, or high-heeled. Ergonomically, that will likely trigger back and neck pain, as well. Corns and calluses also need filing down, such as with a pumice stone. If certain toe conditions aren’t treated, surgery may be recommended. For ingrown toenails, soaking the foot or putting gauze between the skin and nail can provide some relief. Some toe fractures may respond to pain relievers, icing, and rest, while others may need immobilization, or even surgery. With toe arthritis, exercises and stretching may help, but pain relievers are often prescribed. Surgery may be recommended in that case, too. Sesamoid fractures and outer foot breaks may respond to RICE (rest, ice, elevation), pain relievers, and immobilization. If those don’t work, surgery is a last resort.1
Chiropractors will determine the cause of the pain and use a variety of methods to give the patient relief. They can employ adjustments in the form of joint manipulation and muscle stretching. They recommend exercises and dietary changes. Chiropractors may also use ultrasound therapy, special taping, or orthotics. Ergonomics are another area of expertise that chiropractors have. They can recommend appropriate footwear for the patient.2 “Most foot pain complaints…are due to lack of sufficient support or inappropriate foot wear”.3 Chiropractors can make nutritional recommendations to help in cases where foot pain may be triggered by obesity or other dietary interferences, such as “caffeine, alcohol consumption, and other dietary factors.”4 Some chiropractors may employ “alphabet exercises”: while seated, barefoot, at the back of a chair, flex the toes high, and then drop them and trace about five letters of the alphabet –moving all parts of the foot and toes, but keeping the knee immobile.5
Check out how orthotics can help.