What would we do without our toes?! All ten of them are there for good reason and our body balances best when it has the full cooperation of our toes. That’s not to say that we can’t stand, walk, and run with fewer than 10 – people do it. Toes must sometimes be amputated due to injury, infection, or complications from diabetes. In those cases, there are custom orthotics available to help a person “replace” the lost toes.

But why not take care of the 10 toes you have as best you can? Here’s a guide to 8 things that can go wrong.

  1. Bunions are the painful, bony bumps found on the outside of the big toe. They form when there’s a lot of pressure on the joint at the base of the toe, very often from tightly-fitting shoes. When you have a bunion, your big toe points inward and can put pressure on the remaining lesser toes.
  2. Bunionettes are similar to bunions, but they’re found at the base of the pinky toe.
  3. Claw toes are bent at an upward angle, causing difficulty wearing shoes and difficulty walking. This deformity may be the cause of the fourth thing on our list.
  4. Corns are patches of skin that are thickened due to constant contact, rubbing, or pressure from a shoe.
  5. Athlete’s foot is an infection that causes itchy, scaly, red skin anywhere along the foot but most commonly on and in between the toes. It’s a common infection, especially among people who walk barefoot in public places like locker rooms and pool decks.
  6. Ingrown toenails are caused by genetics, pressure from tight shoes, or by careless trimming of the toenails. Always trim them straight across to prevent the side of the nail from growing into the surrounding skin.
  7. Nail fungus, also called onychomycosis, causes nails to become discolored, brittle, and easily broken.
  8. Arthritis shows up in your toes a number of ways, including gout, which can be controlled by diet, and hallux rigidus, a condition in which the joints wear down, causing pain and immobility of the toe. Both gout and hallux rigidus affect the big toe.

Look out for these toe ailments, and visit Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm at Clifton Foot & Ankle Center in Centreville, Virginia whenever your toe pain interferes with your life. Dr. Wilhelm’s been treating all ailments of the foot and ankle in northern Virginia for more than 14 years. Call us at (703) 996-3000 or make an appointment online.

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