Thursday, March 1, 2012

Know Your Toe: All About Toe Pain

Some pains can have an obvious cause: others can be a mystery. The same applies to toe pain. There are a lot of potential causes for toe pain, and the cause depends on the signs and symptoms you experience. While some causes of toe pain are harmless and treatable at home, there are some that require professional medical attention. Most of these conditions occur in some area of the big toe and have a physical symptom in addition to pain. If you are unsure of the cause of your toe pain, consult with a doctor.
Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is a condition in which there is a degenerative breakdown of the cartilage in the foot, which causes bone to rub against bone. Rheumatoid arthritis is another form, and causes the joints of the toe to be destroyed by the immune system. The most common symptoms are pain and swelling.
Bunions
A bunion is a deformity where a bony lump protrudes outside the foot. It causes the displacement of the foot's first metatarsal bone. It causes the big toe to move towards the rest of the toes. Bunions cause intense toe pain and make finding shoes that fit very difficult.
Bursitis
This is another source of big toe pain. Bursitis is caused by an inflamed bursa: a sac filled with fluid situated at the joints that helps to cushion bones, tendons, and tissues. Symptoms of bursitis include inflammation, severe pain, and swelling.
Gout
Gout usually manifests in the first joint of the big toe and causes the toe to become tender to touch, hot, swollen, and painful. Gout is caused by uric acid in the bloodstream that the body is incapable of processing. The uric acid buildup results in a crystallization of the acid in tissues and joints.
Hammer Toe
A hammer toe occurs when the middle section of the toe points upward in an abnormal manner. It is usually found in the second toe and caused by a bunion that is on the big toe pressing against the second toe. Shoes with a wide toebox can help, as well as padding any callous that has formed. If these do not help, surgery can straighten out the toe by fusing the toe or cutting the tendons.
Ingrown Toenail
When a toenail grows into the tissue of the foot, an ingrown toenail is the result. The nail presses on the toe, causing pain, inflammation, and swelling. If not properly and quickly treated, the nail can cause an infection and require the removal of part, if not all, of the toenail.
Morton's Neuroma
Also known as Morton's Toe, this source of toe pain is caused by the benign growth of a nerve sheath between the toes. It results in a tingling sensation or a shooting pain in the toes that are next to the neuroma. The growth is abnormal but not dangerous. The pain is more noticeable while wearing tight shoes. Surgery is necessary in some cases to remove the sheath to stop the pain.

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