A common big toe problem is a callus and/or numbness on the side of the big toe. This can cause pain on the side of the big toe along with a feeling of numbness and tingling.
What Causes Calluses and Numbness of the Big Toe?
A callus, pain or numbness of the big toe is caused by a jamming of the big toe joint during walking. This is called hallux limitus. When the big toe cannot move fully as you step forward, you are forced to roll off of the side of the toe. This pinches the skin and causes the callus. It can also irritate the nerve in the toe and cause numbness and pain. This condition is called “compressive peripheral neuritis”, which is an inflammation of the nerve in the toe due to excessive compression of the nerve.
Numb big toes and calluses on the big toe are also very common in patients with bunions. In fact, these problems are present in most patients with bunions. This is because patients with bunions are forced to roll over the side of the big toe – this pinches the skin causing the callus and numbness. But you don’t have to have a bunion for these problems to occur.
Video: How to Treat Big Toe Numbness and Callus Formation
What is the Most Effective Treatment of Big Toe Calluses and Numbness?
Since a lack of motion of the big toe joint causes the big toe corn or callus, the best way to treat it is to use shoes and orthotics that enhance big toe motion. You want to use stable shoes (available on our shoe list). Custom orthotics can be prescribed specifically to give the big toe joint maximum motion in order to eliminate or reduce callus formation. For very best results and reduction of the callus, this requires a very specific orthotic called a “total contact orthotic”. Several studies have demonstrated that they can improve big toe motion. To be evaluated for orthotics to treat your big toe callus, make an appointment to see us in our Seattle foot and ankle clinic.
It is critical that any orthotic used to treat numbness or callus of the big toe works to enhance motion in the big toe joint. This is the only way to effectively reduce pressure on the medial side of the toe. The video below provides a full explanation of what either a custom or a prefabricated orthotic must do in order to treat this problem. (Note: This video was produced as an educational video for podiatrists and so it may be a bit technical).
What are Home Treatments for Big Toe Callus and Numb Big Toe?
Home treatments for calluses and neuritis of the big toe are focused on improving motion of the big toe joint and getting rid of the pressure on the side of the toe that leads to callus formation and numbness due to pressure on the nerve. To improve motion of the big toe, you must support the arch and transfer pressure off of the big toe joint (see the video above for details on how this works). Try the following 6-step treatment plan for three weeks. If your pain, numbness and callus are not gone, make an appointment to see us in our Seattle clinic or a podiatrist in your community who specializes in biomechanics and orthotic therapy.
|1. Use an arch support in your shoes. This will act to improve motion of the big toe joint so that you are less likely to roll of over the side of the toe. OTC arch supports will not work as well as a custom orthotic because they don’t conform as close to your arch (see video), but will help. The best that we have found for improving big toe function is the P3 Full Length Orthotic,|
|2. Around the house, don’t go barefoot. Use a sandal with an arch support. This will act to decrease pressure on your big toe joint. We recommend the Vionic Flip-flop Sandal – available here for its superior arch support.|
|3. Wear a stable shoe. This will help prevent your foot from rolling into the big toe. This Vionic Walking Shoe for women and this one for men are good examples.|
|4. Grind away the callus itself. This will decrease the pressure that leads to pain and numbness. The easiest way is to use a electric grinder like the Pedinova. Use it after a bath or shower when the skin is soft.|
|5. Another option to get rid of the callus on your big toe is a buffing pad. This takes longer than the Pedinova grinder, but it is less expensive.|
|6. Use an exfoliating cream on the callus.This helps get rid of the thickened skin that is causing the pain and numbness of the big toe. Put this on each night after you use the grinder or buffer on the callus.|
Video: How to Treat Pain in the Big Toe Joint