Causes of Toe Pain
There are many causes of toe pain, from small injuries to serious and chronic issues, and there are many products and medications to assist with relief. Chiropractic care can also be used as a way to help people who suffer from toe pain relieve their symptoms and treat the root cause.
Gout and Footwear
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. Improper or ill-adjusted footwear can also cause corns and calluses. 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 is allowed to remain untreated for an extended period of time and becomes infected. Seemingly minor conditions could worsen to the point of dangerous results, such as when an ingrown toenail becomes infected and the infection spreads to the bones. Most patients will seek treatment before such a point is reached, but some ignore the perceived to be minor issue of an ingrown toenail.
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.
Arthritis, Fractures and Tendonitis
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. Pain that originates in another area of the foot could affect the toes and vice versa.
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. Cheap shoes or even good shoes that have been worn down over a long period of time might both contribute to the development of issues in the feet and toes. Ergonomically, these problems are very likely to trigger back and neck pain, as well. The body is very connected and when one area develops a problem, other parts of the body are likely to be affected as well.
Corns and calluses also need filing down, such as with a pumice stone. If certain toe conditions are left untreated for too long and worsen as a result of this, 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 might respond to pain relievers, icing, and rest, while others could need immobilization, or even surgery. With toe arthritis, exercises and stretching may help, but pain relievers are often prescribed. Surgery might even be recommended in that case, too. Sesamoid fractures and outer foot breaks may respond to RICE (rest, ice, elevation), pain relievers, and immobilization.
If all other options have been exhausted and found to not work, surgery could be pursued as a last resort. Medications and surgery often come with possible side effects, and the patient should seriously weigh the pros and cons before choosing such treatment options.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. Chiropractors have a wide variety of suggestions that they might make to the patient that are natural, safe, and very likely to provide successful treatment.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.