Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout, as well as several other types of arthritis, can cause pain in your toes. All types of arthritis cause swelling, stiffness, and inflammation in your joints. As small as your toe is, walking and even standing are difficult when your toe joint is swollen, stiff, inflamed, and painful.
The experts at Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists specialize in ailments of the toes, feet, and ankles. With proper treatment for your arthritis and the right support for your toe, we can help you learn to manage your toe arthritis and live your life more comfortably. In this post, we share four tips to help you manage your pain.
1. Over-the-counter medications
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, often called NSAIDs, are easily available and include medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. There are prescription NSAIDs as well, such as celecoxib, diclofenac, and nabumetone. NSAIDs relieve inflammation and ease arthritis pain.
NSAIDs work by preventing enzymes called cyclooxygenases from producing compounds called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins act like hormones, and are the cause of pain and inflammation.
Typically, NSAIDs are taken orally, in pill-form but topical versions may also be used. Creams that you apply directly to the skin covering the affected joint can be helpful. Depending on your medical history a topical NSAID to treat your toe pain could be more appropriate than an oral medication.
Oral NSAIDs can have serious side effects if they’re used for a long time. For example, you could develop ulcers, high blood pressure, or kidney damage.
2. Exercise your toes
Stretches specifically to stretch your toes can help you develop better flexibility, improve your range of motion, and lower your pain levels. Depending on when you begin doing the exercises, they may help slow the progression of your arthritis.
Your doctor at Cortez Foot & Ankle Specialists will show you the specific stretches best suited to your condition. We may also suggest doing some exercises to build strength in the structures that support your toe joint and that will help you keep your foot and ankle properly aligned.
3. Choose your shoes carefully
Arthritis doesn’t only cause pain; it also causes damage to your joint. The cartilage that provides cushioning for your bones can degenerate, allowing the bones to grind against each other painfully. You may also develop bone spurs at the base of your toe.
Shoes can become very uncomfortable, and making sure that the shoes you wear fit properly is extra important when you have toe arthritis. You should choose shoes that provide cushioning, support, and rigid sole to provide stability and protect your toe joint.
Shoes with a narrow toe box can increase friction and press on calluses or bunions. Heels, too, are problematic because they add pressure to your tender toe, and hold your foot at an unnatural angle.
One way to get a proper fit is to have your feet measured. Additionally, you should look for specific characteristics, such as:
A wide toe box
- A square or round toe box
- A rigid sole that only bends at the toes
- A stable heel counter, which is the part of the shoe that cups your heel
- Insoles that can be removed in case you need to use custom orthotics
- Enough depth that the top of the shoe doesn’t rub the tops of your toes
- A heel that is two inches or less
4. Use custom molded orthotics
Orthotics are inserts that fit in your shoe to relieve pain. Some types are sold at drug stores, but we recommend custom molded orthotics, which are designed specifically for your foot.
When we custom-make orthotics, we first analyze how you walk. Then, we make impressions of your feet. Those impressions go to a lab where orthotics designed to address your specific issues and to fit your unique fit are made.
You don’t just have to live with the debilitating pain of arthritis in your toe. Schedule your appointment today so that you can begin learning to manage this painful condition.