The big toe (hallux) is vital to ensuring humans continue to walk upright. The strongest of all of the toes, it is also the largest one on each foot. Needless to say, the halluces are probably the most important toes of all. Problems that can occur with each hallux may cause numbness, tingling, weakness, stiffness, etc., in and around the area of the big toe. With any combination of these symptoms, walking upright can become difficult.
If you think gout is the only reason for a painful big toe, think again. Before you decide that your diet needs adjusting and you need a full blood panel done, first address the musculature supporting the hallux. There are seven important muscles that attach and provide movement to the big toe. Flexor hallucis longus, flexor hallucis brevis, extensor hallucis longus, and tibialis anterior are all extrinsic (outside foot) hallux muscles. Extensor hallucis brevis, abductor hallucis, and adductor hallucis are the three intrinsic (inside foot) hallux muscles. I’ve also included an eighth muscle, tibialis posterior, as one that can cause pain in and around the big toe although it doesn’t have a tendinous attachment to the hallux bones as the other muscles do.
On the underside of the foot, at the base of the big toe, a tight adductor hallucis may exhibit pain in this area. Both flexor hallucis longus and brevis can cause pain and numbness in the underside of the big toe. Abductor hallucis usually causes pain on the inside of the heel, and if this muscle is tight enough, there is accompanying pain beneath the first metatarsal. Tibialis posterior can cause pain at the base of the big toe, but this muscle may also show pain in the Achilles region of the lower leg.
If the top of the hallux is painful, the muscles that dorsiflex (or extend) the big toe could be the offending party. The muscles that dorsiflex the big toe are the tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus, and extensor hallucis brevis. Tibialis anterior will generate pain or tenderness in the shin as well as pain on the dorsum of the foot. Pain caused by the extensor hallucis longus may be felt in the front of the ankle as well as on top of the big toe. Extensor hallucis brevis will only cause pain in the location of the muscle, at the top of foot near the base of the first metatarsal. Check all three of these muscles when pinpointing the cause of your toe pain.
To treat your stiff, tight, aching muscles, seek out your favorite acupuncturist and/or massage therapist. Also, try a warm foot soak in Epsom salt to help relax muscles further. Follow up your foot soak with easy stretching for both the intrinsic and extrinsic foot muscles. In conjunction with professional care, you can self-treat your muscles with the Sciaticare Ball by August Point Wellness. Roll your foot over the Sciaticare Ball to treat the acupressure and trigger points on the underside of the foot. Rolling the entire plantar side of your foot will do wonders to treat the many small, hardworking muscles that ache from continued walking, running, etc. The Sciaticare Ball can also treat the tibialis anterior and can address other extrinsic muscles in the lower leg. A regular care plan should include visits to your practitioner as well as self-care. For your self-care, we highly recommend the Sciaticare Ball. Visit our website to learn more about the Sciaticare Ball and how you can rid yourself of big toe pain.