A bunion is a painful bony bump that develops on the inside of the foot at the big toe joint. They develop slowly as pressure on the big toe joint causes the big toe to lean toward the second toe. Over time, the normal structure of the bone changes, resulting in the bunion bump. This deformity will gradually increase and may make it painful to wear shoes or walk. In most cases, bunion pain is relieved by wearing wider shoes with adequate toe room and using other simple treatments to reduce pressure on the big toe. Surgery may be recommended if you have pain and difficulty walking despite changes in footwear and other nonsurgical treatments. Bunion surgery realigns bone, ligaments, tendons, and nerves so that the big toe can be brought back to its correct position.
People often blame the common foot deformity claw toe on wearing shoes that squeeze your toes. However, claw toe is also caused by nerve damage due to diseases like diabetes or alcoholism. Having claw toe means your toes "claw," digging down into the soles of your shoes and creating painful calluses. Claw toe deformities are usually flexible at first, but they harden into place over time. If you have claw toe in early stages, your doctor may recommend a splint or tape to hold your toes in correct position.
A hammer toe is a deformity of the second, third, or fourth toes. In this condition, the toe is bent at the middle joint, so that it resembles a hammer. Initially, hammer toes are flexible and can be corrected with simple measures but, if left untreated, they can become fixed and require surgery.
An ingrown toenail is when the sides of the nail curl down and dig into your skin. Trimming your toenails too short (particularly on the sides of your big toes) or wearing shoes that are too tight or too short can cause ingrown toenails. If ingrown toenails are recognized early, home care may prevent the need for further treatment. If excessive inflammation, swelling, pain, and discharge are present, the toenail may be infected and should be treated by a physician. You may need to take oral antibiotics and the nail may need to be partially or completely removed with surgery.
Learn more about ingrown toenails.
The simplest definition of turf toe is that it is a sprain of the main joint of the big toe. It happens when the toe is forcibly bent up into hyperextension, such as when pushing off into a sprint and having the toe get stuck flat on the ground. Most cases of turf toe are treated without surgery. However, if your symptoms persist or your level of athletic play is affected, surgery may be an option.
The most common site of arthritis in the foot is at the base of the big toe, or MTP joint. If the joint starts to stiffen, walking can become painful and difficult. The ends of the bones in the joint are covered by a smooth articular cartilage. If wear-and-tear or injury damage the articular cartilage, the raw bone ends can rub together and create a bone spur that prevents the toe from bending when you walk. Surgery is typically recommended to remove the bone spur and a portion of the foot bone so the toe has more room to move. If the damage is more severe, fusing the bones together (arthrodesis) is often recommended. The damaged cartilage is removed, and pins, screws, or a plate are used to fix the joint in a permanent position. Older patients who place few functional demands on the feet may be candidates for joint replacement surgery.
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