Last week we talked about turf toe. Turf toe is when you bend the joint between your metatarsal bone and the connecting phalange bone beyond normal. With this injury, the capsule and ligaments around and between the bones are strained or torn.
What can happen if you ignore pain at the base of your big toe?
Ignoring turf toe can lead to Hallux Limitus. “Hallux” is the word for big toe in Latin (all doctors love Latin…) and Limitus means what you would think it means – limited motion. Limited motion in the big toe can be due to injuries or it can be from arthritis, chronic gout, or a misalignment of the bones in your foot. The types of injuries are things like turf toe or even a badly stubbed toe. If it were just limited motion, you might not think that much about the issue. The problem is that it is painful. It hurts every time you walk or run. At first, pain will ease when you are sitting or lying down but as the problem worsens, it can still cause pain even then.
Hallux Limitus usually starts slowly. You many know that you injured your foot but you just keep going thinking that it would go away. You may notice that the joint is inflamed but hobbled along anyway. But it is a progressive disease and it will just continue to get worse.
How fast should I go to the Podiatrist?
This is one of those times when going to see your friendly local podiatrist faster rather than slower is important. The quicker this problem is addressed the better your chances of it not advancing to the next stage which is Hallux Rigidus. I bet you can guess that that means rigid (as in NOT BENDING) big toe.
Think about or look at how your foot moves when you go to walk. Do you notice that a lot of your weight is centered on the joint at the base of your big toe? At the start of Hallux Limitus, you might feel a twinge of pain when you start walking but over time you will feel much more than a twinge. You will feel a lot of pain in the area. Enough pain that you will not want to walk. Since we think that is not an option, we urge you to go to the doctor as soon as possible.
What will happen when I see the Podiatrist?
When you go see the doctor, you will be asked questions about your health history. The doctor may want to have an x-ray or MRI of the area so that you can both see how it looks. After the test, the doctor will tell you about the treatment options. The treatment options will depend upon your lifestyle and how severe the problem is. One suggestion could be that you put a cushioning pad under your toe to help ease the pressure. Also, an orthotic for your shoes will help hold the toe in placed and can help distribute the weight away from the joint.
If you delay in going to the doctor and the damage is severe, there are less non-invasive options. This is why we want you to go as soon as you start feeling consistent twinges of pain in the big toe joint. The surgical options will leave you off that foot for 3-4 months. I know you are saying that you can’t do that – don’t we all feel that way? So rather than let it get to that point, go see the doctor at the beginning.
So, please if you ever feel any pain at the base of your big toe, go to see your friendly local podiatrist. It is worth your time.
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