The toes along with the feet of the human body, work quietly in the background, allowing individuals to travel literally millions of miles throughout their lifetime. They play a critical role in a person's ability to carry out daily tasks, yet they are some of the most neglected parts of the body. In some cases, a person has to reach the point where they have difficulty walking before they finally decide to pay attention to their painful toes.
Fortunately there is help available, and surprisingly, physical therapy has quite a bit to offer for those suffering from painful toe and foot issues. Before heading off to a surgeon, it's worth giving physical therapists a chance to help resolve issues through conservative methods.
- Hallux valgus - Over time, some people begin to notice their big toe gradually drifting toward its adjacent toe. This condition is known as hallux valgus. Initially, the drifting may not seem like much, but over time it's not uncommon for the joint of the big toe to thicken, as well as form extra bone. This joint response to hallux valgus is known as a bunion and they can be quite painful. Women are more likely to experience painful bunions since they often choose footwear that either are simply too small, or the shoes are constructed in such a way as to compress the toes.
- Hammertoe - Hammertoes can develop in response to the hallux valgus. As the big toe begins to drift over, the adjacent toe has nowhere to go but up and it begins to curl up toward the body. Between the hallux valgus and the hammertoes, if left untreated, both of these conditions can lead to unsightly, deformed-looking and of course, painful feet and toes.
Physical Therapy to the Rescue
Physical therapy has come a long way in recent decades and can now help many patients reverse painful conditions, thus allowing them to avoid going under the knife. In the case of painful toe and foot conditions, a physical therapist can administer stretching exercises to help reverse toe drifting. They can also provide advice on how to select footwear that is the proper size, as well as providing sufficient space for the toes. A physical therapist may also recommend custom-made orthotics for their patients that can help correct problems with fallen arches, a condition that sometimes exacerbates toe issues.
To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog.
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