Treatments for Toe Troubles

Your toes are important

Toes help you jump, run, kick, and more, which also makes them pretty vulnerable to injury. They can also be prone to problems you may have just happened to inherit, and they can even be the unfortunate victims of poor shoe choices. With so many possible troubles, we think it’s time your toes got a little TLC!  Here are some common toe conditions and injuries and what you can do to treat these problems so they don’t keep you down for long. 

Turf Toe

Common in athletes, this injury to the big toe joint occurs when the toe is jammed into the ground or planted, while weight is shifted forward causing the toe to bend too far and ligaments to stretch beyond their limits. It is characterized by immediate pain, bruising, and swelling, with a gradual loss of flexibility and an onset of stiffness. This can become a chronic problem If return to activity is too soon and the toe does not heal properly. It can even lead to arthritis. 

Treatment: Rest! Taking time off is essential in order for turf toe to heal. Icing the area and elevating your foot will reduce inflammation and help with pain. Wrapping or taping the toe to its neighbor will keep it in the proper position and offer protection as it heals. Physical therapy helps to restore range-of-motion, flexibility, and strength.


Although high heels and narrow, tight footwear can exacerbate this problem, the real blame lies with your parents! Developing bunions is an inherited trait involving poor foot structure that encourages your big toe joint to travel out of alignment. The bone is pushed outward while the toe angles inward, and the problem gets progressively worse. The pressure from ill-fitting shoes can make the bony protrusion become red, swollen, and painful.

Treatment: Get some new shoes! Look for low heels with wide and deep toe boxes that offer plenty of room for toes to wiggle around. Also choose a pair made from materials with some give to accommodate the bump. Icing the area and using bunion pads can ease discomfort. There are also toe splints and stretches that can help.  If all else fails to bring relief, surgical procedures are available.


Another toe deformity, this results from a muscle imbalance, and again can be aggravated by the shoes on your feet! This condition is signified by your middle toe joint bending upward, forcing the tip of your toe to point down, resembling the head of a hammer. Left untreated, the toe can get stuck in this abnormal position, making it difficult to wear shoes. In addition, corns can form where your shoe rubs against the toe, causing even more discomfort.

Treatment: Stretch it straight! Wearing toe splints or taping your toe to the one next to it will help keep it straight and ensure it does not become stiff. Shoe inserts can help as well, and it’s important to avoid footwear that squishes your toes! If you have waited too long and your toe has become stiff, surgical intervention will be your only option.

Hallux Rigidus

This is the medical term for arthritis in the big toe joint, which can be painful, cause swelling, and lead to a loss of flexibility. Bone spurs can also form as a result of this condition, compounding the problem.

Treatment: Modify footwear and medicate!  To assist in limiting mobility of the joint, thus easing pain, choose stiff soled or rocker bottom shoes. Anti-inflammatory medication, taken orally or by injection, can help to reduce pain and swelling. Our MLS laser can relieve symptoms as well. If you cannot find relief with conservative measures, surgery may need to be considered.

Broken Toe

Broken Toe

Usually resulting from some type of trauma, a fractured toe can be painful, swollen, bruised, and even misshapen, depending on the type of break incurred.

Treatment: Opt for an X-Ray! Severe breaks need medical care, so it’s best to get an x-ray in order for damage to be accurately assessed. You may need to have the bones reset and wear a splint or a cast. For less severe cases, taping toes together will give it stability and allow it to heal in proper position. You should also rest, ice, and elevate the injury to reduce pain and swelling.

These are just a few of the common toe conditions and injuries that can occur and the toe treatments to help them out. If you are experiencing pain or noticing any of the symptoms mentioned above, come see us at Podiatry Associates, P.C. so we can determine the trouble with your toe and give it the necessary TLC! Call (303) 805-5156 to make an appointment with Dr. Oberholtzer-Classen and the team today.