fitness · injury

Sam is grumpy about toe physio


I’ve kept quiet about this latest physical problem because next to my knee arthritis and pending knee replacement surgery, it seems minor. However, I’ve had x-rays, seen a regular doctor and a foot specialist and the diagnosis is that I also have a seriously arthritic big toe on my left foot.

See here and here.

Really? Yes, really.

Oh, aging. I’m reminded of my father a lot these days. I know what he would have said. “Yes, aging sucks but it sure beats the alternative.” My father died four years ago, just before Christmas. I think about him a lot at this time of year. They’re good memories and I’m glad that I have them.

Back to my big toe. Yes, just one. The one of the left foot. The one on my right foot is fine.

You can read all about the problem here.

Big toe joint

“A crucial element of big-toe function is the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, which joins the first long bone (metatarsal) in the forefoot to the first bone of the big toe (phalanx). Every time you take a step, the MTP joint bends, allowing the foot to roll forward and push off. During this phase of the walking cycle, the joint supports 50% of the body’s weight. If the joint doesn’t function properly, not only walking, but also exercising and many other activities of daily life can be difficult, sometimes impossible. One of the most common ailments of the big toe joint is hallux rigidus — literally, “stiff big toe.”

So what’s the prognosis? If you read the article linked above, I’m at the conservative, symptom management stage. Take ibuprofen. (Thanks, already doing that for the knee.) Wear shoes with a large toe box. (Looking at my existing shoe collection with side eye.)

These are my new favorites, obviously not a large toe box. It’s a double shoe selfie with my friend Andrea Zanin, who guest blogs here occasionally. She’s wearing the sparkly pink, red festive shoes and mine are black with silver buckles.


I’ve also ordered custom orthotics that will help support the midfoot and give me better lift off for walking. Thanks again benefits.

Finally, there’s toe physio. Friends will remember my amusement years ago when I was sent to a finger physio clinic and assigned an awful lot of exercises after I broke my finger walking my dogs. It wasn’t the big one who caused the broken finger. It was the medium sized dog Olivia who took off after a dog on the street and I smashed my hand on the pavement.

I miss these dogs. They also both died in 2015. It wasn’t a great year.

Manny and Olivia. Miss you both.

Eventually I stopped mocking the finger physio clinic and their exercises and I did them. I’m good that way. I now have full mobility back in that joint. So I suspect I’ll get there with toe physio. I’ll do the exercises while watching whatever show I’m watching over the holidays. That’s currently Fleabag.

In the scheme of things this isn’t a big deal. My foot hurts and I get cramps. But on top of the knee it feels super annoying. Really? Knee and toe physio exercises? Really?

Increasing big toe mobility with YouTube videos!

Yes. That’s my life now. But echoing my dad, it beats the alternative.

11 thoughts on “Sam is grumpy about toe physio

  1. I’ve had a toe cramp thing for awhile that I ignore. Not my big toe, the one beside it. Every once in awhile when i’m walking, I get a sharp cramp in it that is quite painful. And actually it seems worse in shoes with more room in the toe. Toes are important. I hope yours feels better soon. And lovely dogs. Olivia reminds me of my shitzhu, Barley, just bigger.

    1. My toe pain was also the second toe and accompanied by cramps but it turns out it’s caused by arthritis in the big toe. Hoping orthotics help.

  2. I have to be honest, looking at those shoes made my feet hurt. I don’t have official foot issues , but around age 25, I just told myself no more. I’m wearing good shoes. There are lots of cute shoes that have a wider toe box, fortunately.

  3. I have osteoarthritis in my big toe and have recurrent stress fractures of the fifth metatarsal.
    Shoes with a wide toe box and a stiffer sole are a must.
    I wear Algeria shoes. They are extremely comfortable.
    Consider them. Style is not everything, foot comfort is!

  4. I have this exact thing, left big toe arthritis!
    I have no idea what to do about it at all, I have had it since I was about 35 (now43) and the doctor didn’t even bother to tell me the outcome of the x ray, I had to ring the receptionist and ask. Apparently it had been marked no further action and nothing to worry about. So after they told me nothing I have been completely ignoring it just taking ibuprofen when it hurts…

    I shall be looking at these articles and videos with interest!!

    Thank you!

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