Do you feel like your toes are always stiff? Perhaps you can bend them, but it takes more effort — and maybe there's some soreness involved. Stiff toes can make it hard to get through the day, let alone exercise. Luckily, most causes of toe stiffness are manageable. Here's a look at three conditions that can cause this symptom.
Gout is a condition in which uric acid collects in the joints. It usually begins in the big toe, although it can affect all of the toes. Over time, gout can travel unto other joints, including your ankles, wrists, and knees. If gout is to blame for your toe stiffness, your toes will also appear read and inflamed. The pain and stiffness may come in waves, affecting you for a week or two at a time before it fades away.
If your doctor does diagnose you with gout, you will be put on a specialized diet that minimizes the amount of uric acid in your system. Foods like fish, bacon, and alcohol should be avoided. This should, over a period of a few weeks, cause your toe stiffness to ease.
The problem could be that you have osteoarthritis in a few of the joints in your toes. This condition occurs when the cartilage in your joints begins to wear away, leading to pain and stiffness. The older you are, the greater your chances of developing osteoarthritis. Athletes who spend a lot of time on their feet, running and jumping, are more likely to get it in their toes -- but people who have worked on their feet their whole life sometimes contract it, too.
To manage stiffness due to osteoarthritis, you can apply topical pain relieving creams to the sore area. Also try taking naproxen when the stiffness acts up. Massaging your toes will help draw circulation to the area, easing the swelling.
Scleroderma is a condition in which the connective tissue surrounding a joint grows abnormally. The extra connective tissue physically gets in the way of the joint, making it hard to bend. If scleroderma is to blame for your toe stiffness, your toes probably appear to have thickened skin with some band-like discoloration.
Treating scleroderma can be complicated, and the exact treatment varies by case. Your podiatrist may surgically remove some of the extra tissue and may also prescribe medications to prevent your body from creating any new tissue.
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