What are the Causes of Stiff Toes & Identify Its Symptom for Treatment

What Causes Stiffness in Toes?

The main cause of toe stiffness is brought about by joint damage which is, in turn, caused by several factors. These factors are listed below.

  • Genetic disposition

  • Overuse of the toes such as engaging in activities that increase strain on it.

  • Extensive pronation or flattening of the foot.

    This is caused by too much pressure brought about by weight.

  • Bone contours in the toes that are irregular which limits the movement of the joint. There are times when bony bumps are present.

  • Alignment of the joints is irregular which causes wear and tear of the bones.

  • Loose bone fragments or osteophytes are present in or near the joints.

  • Malfunction of the sesamoids or the two small bones beneath the metatarsophalangeal joint.

  • Malfunction of the muscles and tendons.

  • Presence of scar tissue that can bind down joints.

  • Infection which causes inflammation and destroys soft and bony tissues.

  • Extensive pressure brought about by tight shoes and high-heeled shoes.

  • Trauma

  • Abnormal functioning of the joints.

  • Arthritis and other medical conditions like gout, Reynaud’s disease, peripheral vascular disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis, systemic sclerosis, diabetes mellitus, and Duputyren’s contracture.

Symptoms of Stiff Toes

  • Stiffness that is coupled with pain during use, such as when walking, running, standing, and bending.

  • The stiffness and pain felt gets worse when the weather is cold and damp.

  • Inability and difficulties in doing certain activities that involve the toes, like squatting and running.

  • Joints of the toes swell and get inflamed.

  • Pain even when the toes are not used.

  • Difficulties in wearing shoes.

  • Patients may experience dull aching pain in the lower back, knee, and hips caused by change in walking patterns.

  • In severe cases, limping can be observed.

What are the Treatments for Stiff Toes

  • Shoe modifications. Shoes that are stiff and have soles that slightly rocks along with movement may be recommended.

  • Patients may need to wear orthotic devices to enhance foot function.

  • Physical therapy can produce temporary relief.

  • Physiotherapy and massage along with proper rest and placing ice packs on the affected area can help reduce symptoms temporarily.

  • Surgery. Cheilectomy and exostectomy are some surgical procedures that can be done. Inserting false joints or implants can also be used along with the Keller procedure and fusion of the joints which is known as arthrodesis.

  • Other surgical procedures that enhance normal functioning of the toes include the Bonny-Kessel, Waterman, Lambrinudi, Reverdin-Green-Laired-Todd, Giannistras, and Youngswick procedures.

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