Toe conditions are divided into 3 areas:
• Conditions that affect the 1st toe (hallux; big toe) and include bunions, hallux limitus and hallux rigidus
• Conditions that affect the 2-4 toes, such as hammer and claw toes
• Conditions that affect the 5th toe, like tailor bunions
Bunions (Hallux Valgus)
Hallux Valgus, or bunions as they’re colloquially known, is a misalignment of the joints of the big toe, manifesting as a swollen bump on the joint. Bunions result from a hereditary disorder in the foot’s structure, and are aggravated by improperly fitting shoes. They can become quite inflamed and painful if irritated, and also cause numbness. In severe cases, the big toe may overlap the adjacent second toe. This common condition tends to affect women more so than men because of narrow-toed shoes and high heels. Treatment includes wearing shoes with wide toes, spacers to separate the big toe form the second, and if severe enough, corrective surgery. Consult a chiropodist for diagnosis and treatment options.
Hallux limitus/rigidus is the degeneration of the first metatarsal joint of the big toe. As opposed to bunions, no bump appears at the side of the foot. However, patients will suffer a reduction in the toe’s ability to bend while walking. A dull pain, swelling and stiffness in and around the first joint will also occur. This discomfort will intensify through activity, and in the early stages, diminish with rest.
Hammer Toes (Claw Toes)
Hammer toes, also known as “claw toes,” are deformities that cause the second, third and fourth toes to curl or bend in the middle joint, resembling hammers, as the name suggests. Hammer toes are often the result of a foot imbalance, generally following other foot deformities, such as high arches. Calluses and corns often develop on the top or end of the toes, which can be quite painful. A major limitation for patients suffering from hammer toe is finding a shoe that fits. Treatment should be sought immediately. If neglected, toes will become ridged and fixed in the hammer shape. Surgery is then the only option. Depending on the degree of severity, treatment will vary. Consult a chiropodist for options.
Tailor’s bunions are also known as bunionettes, which are similar to bunions except they occur on the outside of the fifth metatarsal bone located at the base of the baby bone. Symptoms include inflammation, redness and pain of the baby toe. Similar to bunions, tailor’s bunions are often caused by constricting footwear, like high heels. Because protrusion is quite evident, diagnosis is easy. See a chiropodist of treatment options.