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Injuries to Toes and Toenails

Treatment Options for Toe and Toenail Conditions

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Updated October 19, 2009

While toes are small, and seemingly hidden from view, a toe or toenail problems can be a big inconvenience and quite painful. Toe and toenail problems are not uncommon. Often the result of poor footwear, these conditions can cause pain and difficulty walking or wearing shoes. Learn about different toe and toenail problems, and what treatments are available for these conditions.

1. Turf Toe

football turf toe injury
Photo © www.iStockPhoto.com
Turf toe is a condition of pain at the base of the big toe. Usually the result of athletic activities on a hard surface, turf toe is especially common in athletes who compete on artificial turf. Treatment of turf toe is usually helpful, but the condition can return.

2. Ingrown Toenail

ingrown toenail
Image © A.D.A.M.
An ingrown toenail is a condition that is caused by abnormal growth of both the toenail and the surrounding tissues. When the toenail grows into the surrounding tissue, a painful toe is the result. The irritation from the toenail causes swelling of the tissues, and further inflammation.

3. Hammer Toe

hammer toe pain callous
Image © A.D.A.M.
A hammer toe occurs when the middle of the toe points upwards abnormally. This most often occurs in the second toe, and is often the result of a big toe bunion pushing on the second toe. A painful callous often forms on top of the first joint in the toe.

4. Hallux Rigidus (Great Toe Arthritis)

Hallux rigidus occurs when there is arthritis at the base of the big toe. Arthritis of the big toe is the most common type of arthritis in the foot. Treatment of hallux rigidus may require surgery to remove bone spurs or to fuse the joint.

5. Bunion

bunion toe pain deformity
Photo © Jonathan Cluett, MD
Bunions are a common problem that most people experience as a bony protuberance at the base of the big toe. A bunion, however, is more complicated than simply a bump on the foot. When a patient has a bunion, the big toe angles in towards the other toes, a condition called hallux valgus. Bunions are most common in women, and the cause is almost always due to unsuitable footwear.

6. Athlete's Foot

athletes foot toes
Image © A.D.A.M.
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the skin of your feet. The fungus, tinea pedis, is contracted from public environments. The fungus then grows in the warm and moist environment of your footwear, and can be difficult to eradicate.

7. Morton's Neuroma

A Morton's neuroma is a benign growth of the nerve sheath of a nerve that courses between the toes. This condition is an abnormal growth, but it is not a cancer that can become a dangerous condition. Rather, the Morton's neuroma can become a painful nuisance.
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