What's that toe up to?
Time and time again, we see our fair share of painful toes or 'my toe is bending', but what exactly is happening?
For some, it may be the start of a hammer toe and it most commonly affects the second digit (Morton's toe anyone?). Oftentimes, this presentation is preceded by an aching or swelling of the connecting joint in the ball of your foot called the metatarsophalangeal joint. It can lose stability when the ligament underneath begins to tear, causing pain and inflammation and a noticeable "upward drifting of the toe".
This is most typically observed in women who have reached the peri-menopausal/menopausal stage in their lives. Additionally, weight gain can be a contributing factor but so can an increase in high impact exercise (running, jumping).
So what is a person to do? Here are some tips:
Wear supportive shoes with well made outer soles - it should not be 'too bendy' and allow the foot to propel forward without adding too much pressure to the ball of the foot
If there is redness or swelling, ice daily and apply a pain relieving balm (i.e., Voltaren, Fisiocrem) regularly.
Use sports tape and tape the toe using the crossover technique so that you gently bring the toe down and anchor the ends to the ball of the foot
Reduce or alternate any high impact activity for 4 weeks
If faulty foot mechanics are to blame, you may need custom-made foot orthotics to stabilize the foot and support the forefoot
The evolution of a hammertoe can be an uncomfortable journey but addressing it early can provide relief and keep your toes happier, longer!