Big Toe Does More than You Know and the Effects on Other Toes

Recently, a man named Mike Stevens travelled from Mississippi to California to undergo a surgery that would transfer his big toe to his hand where it will replace the thumb he lost in an accident. This may be a surprising idea to many people because the thumb and toes are not thought of as being as functional as the fingers. However, the musculature and bone structure of the hands and feet are remarkable similar.

While it is very exciting that Mike will hopefully regain a large portion of the function of his thumb and be able to use his hands better in his career as a mechanic, he will have to take extra care to prevent additional deformities from occurring in his foot. While Mike’s case is extreme, smaller changes in the action and structure of the muscle and ligaments of the foot are what can lead to various deformities and a decrease in the functionality of the foot. One common example of this happening is the development of hammer toes. Commonly, a muscle known as the tibialis posterior becomes weakened and muscles that attach to the bottom of the toes and act to flex them or pull them towards the ground are forced to “fire” earlier, longer and with more force to compensate. This constant force leads to hammer toes which can cause painful corns on the tops of the second, third or fourth toes. An excessive pull from one of the flexor muscles that causes hammer toes can also cause mallet toes. The difference between a hammer toe and a mallet toe is that in mallet toe only the very tip of the toe is bent down towards the floor, while hammer toes have the base of the toe bent up away from the floor and the other 2/3 of the toe bent towards the ground. Mallet toes can also cause corns or even black toenails from the nail abnormally hitting against the shoe forming a bruise.

A variety of surgical procedures exist to successfully eliminate these deformities, but there are also many less invasive options for pain relief. Corns should never be removed at home, especially in an individual with diabetes, as it can lead to serious infection if done improperly. Your podiatrist can safely remove any corns or calluses and fit padding over the affected toe to lessen the development of painful corns in the future. Custom orthotics can also be used to help correct the underlying muscle imbalance and any other abnormal changes in foot structure. So whether you just had your big toe removed or you are tired of corns and your feet feeling tired and aching, contact your podiatrist to address these problems and allow your feet to function to the best of their ability!

Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington. If you would like to see a podiatrist in Dublin, Ohio near Tuttle Crossing, call 614-885-3338 for an appointment.

By Dr. Animesh (Andy) Bhatia