Are you having pain with walking, running or jumping? Numbness and tingling in the toes? Aching or sharp pain in your big toe? Toe pain with planks or lunges? Toe pain and injuries are common, especially in sports that include running and jumping. Our toes take a lot of impact during these types of activities and it’s important to have healthy joints to stay active. At Symmetry Physical Therapy, we are specially trained in assessing the cause of your toe pain and creating a treatment plan for you so you can get back to doing what you love. Click here to schedule an appointment with us at our clinic located in Downtown Miami/Brickell! Keep reading below to find out what your experience will be with us.
What is Causing My Toe Pain?
Your physical therapist will spend the first day performing an initial evaluation to determine the cause of your toe pain. When assessing toe pain, it is important to know the diagnosis, but your physical therapist will also evaluate you based on how you present as an individual. The first step is a thorough history which will ask about any previous injuries, surgeries, or medical conditions as well as questions about aggravating activities, your lifestyle and activity level. Come prepared to answer questions such as:
- How did the pain start?
- How long and how often have I been experiencing pain?
- What makes the pain better/worse?
- Where do I feel the pain?
- Do I notice any swelling?
- Do I experience numbness and tingling?
- What time of day is my pain better/worse?
- What kind of shoes do I wear daily/for exercise
Next, your therapist will perform movement and mobility assessments, strength testing, postural analysis, and special tests. These will determine structures that may be involved in causing your toe pain symptoms. Your therapist will observe activities that are important to daily function. These include how you sit, stand, walk, squat, and other essential forms of mobility. By observing your different postures in these positions, your therapist can determine what muscles you over or underuse. They can then assess these areas further.
Your therapist will also test your ability to hold positions as well to determine how strong these muscles are and if there are any muscular imbalances. Muscle imbalances can present as one leg or side of the trunk being weaker than the other or that one muscle is tight and the opposite muscle is weak. Core strength deficits can lead to improper functioning of foot muscles. This can stress certain parts of your foot more than others. Your physical therapist will take you through lower extremity and core strengthening exercises that are appropriate for your level. Your therapist will also test the range of motion of your toes to see if there are any limitations. From there, they will determine if it’s due to changes in the joint or muscle tightness.
What Are Some Common Foot Pain Conditions that You Treat?
There are many different diagnoses related to toe pain. Four of the most common diagnoses for toe pain are turf toe, bunions, hallux rigidus, and Morton’s neuroma. For all these conditions, surgery is normally not required and symptoms can be fully managed with physical therapy.
Physical Therapy for Turf Toe
Turf toe occurs when the big toe is pressed back forcefully usually during sprinting when the toe is planted and the heel is lifted. You may feel sharp or aching pain in your big toe as well as difficulty pushing off when walking. Your physical therapist will assess your strength and mobility of your feet and rest of your lower extremities to determine if you have any structural or strength deficits. Your physical therapist may also perform joint mobilizations to the big toe to increase range of motion and reduce pain. Exercises will include lower extremity and core strengthening exercises to help improve balance and running mechanics. Your therapist will also teach you pain management techniques to help reduce inflammation.
Physical Therapy for Bunions
A bunion occurs when the big toe starts pointing more inward, causing a large bump on the side of the foot. This can be due to improper footwear or decreased strength of the toes which don’t allow proper alignment. You may feel aching and sharp pain on the side of your big toe and pain with activities such as walking and running. Your physical therapist can help teach you strength and mobility exercises for the foot to improve alignment and activation of the outer muscles of the toe. If your doctor chooses for you to have surgery, your physical therapist can help you manage your symptoms as well as improve strength and range of motion.
Physical Therapy for Hallux Rigidus
Hallux rigidus is when there’s a change at the joint of the big toe causing a change in joint function and range of motion. You may gradually begin to lose full motion at your big toe and experience sharp and achy pain. You may begin to have pain with activities such as walking and running. Your physical therapist will help address any strength and mobility deficits in the big toe through joint mobilizations and soft tissue work as well as teach you lower extremity and core strengthening exercises to improve balance and walking/running mechanics.
Physical Therapy for Morton’s Neuroma
A Morton’s neuroma occurs when a nerve in the foot gets compressed between the bones of the foot causing pain in the ball of the foot, most commonly between your third and fourth toes. Pressure or injury from running or wearing high heels can contribute to this pain. You may feel pain and swelling at the base of your toes as well as numbness and tingling. Your physical therapist will teach you mobility as well as strengthening exercises for the foot to reduce the compression and improve the mobility of the nerve.
Click here to schedule an appointment with us to find out more how to manage your toe pain!