The toe is part of the foot and each foot has five toes. With their bones, muscles, and nerves, the toes support the foot as it carries the weight of the body while in standing position. Together, they flex and extend to assist the body while walking, running or simply standing up. They also constantly adjust and shift to balance the weight to prevent the person from falling over.
Each foot has a total of 14 phalanx bones while each toe has three phalanx bones (proximal, middle and distal) except for the big toe or the hallux, which only has two (proximal and distal). Each toe connects to the rest of the foot through the metatarsophalangeal joints of the metatarsal bones.
Common Toe Problems/Conditions
Toe pain – Common toe pain can result from ingrown toenails, calluses, blisters, and bunions or can be caused by an injury or medical condition like a sprain or arthritis.
Stubbed toe – This is a common toe condition that results from bumping the toe on hard objects, spraining the toe in the process.
Toe deformity – A toe deformity like claw toe, where the toe is bent upward at the proximal joint and digs in downward at the middle joint, may result from ill-fitting shoes, diabetes or arthritis. Other deformities include hammer and trigger toe.
Gout – This is a common condition affecting the big toe resulting from the accumulation of crystals in the joint making it painful to walk.
Common Toe Treatments and Procedures
Medications – Pain, inflammation, and gout can be treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Surgery – This may be required when a toe bone is displaced or broken and regular non-invasive treatment is not applicable. Surgery may be needed when the bone needs repositioning with the use of tools or hardware to keep it in position as it heals.