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The end links of the foot are called toes. Normally we humans have five toes, the big toe (Hallux; Digitus pedis I) inside, the little toe (Digitus minimus; Digitus pedis V) outside and in between the toes Digitus pedis II to Digitus pedis IV. The anatomy of the toes is similar to that of the The fingers and all toes, except the hallux, have three limbs. Depending on the length of the individual toes, a rough distinction is made between three shapes: the Egyptian, the Greek and the Roman foot shape. In the Egyptian foot shape, the big toe is clearly the longest, in the Greek foot shape the second toe is longer than the hallux and in the Roman foot shape, the big toe and the second toe are about the same length.
The big toe in particular helps us to keep our balance, but is exposed to considerable stress every day. In addition, wearing unsuitable footwear can result in permanent incorrect loads. Typical consequences are osteoarthritis in the big toe joint with subsequent stiffening of the joint (hallux rigidus), hallux valgus (misalignment of the big toe) and the development of a hammer toe or splayfoot. The so-called sandal gap (oversized distance between big toe and second toe) is - as the name suggests - mostly the result of unsuitable shoes.
Other complaints in the area of the toes often concern the toenails and the complexion. For example, infections with nail fungus are a common symptom, but athlete's foot is also often found on the toes or in the spaces between the toes. In addition, many people suffer from ingrown toenails, which is not only painful, but can also cause inflammation, which in the worst case is associated with further health problems.
An extremely serious complaint, which particularly affects the toes, is the development of a so-called gangrene. This is necrosis (death) of the tissue, which can occur, for example, as a result of insufficient blood circulation in arteriosclerosis. Often there is an accompanying bacterial infection, which increases the extent of the necrosis and, in the worst case, can cause blood poisoning. Removal of the affected tissue or amputation of the affected toes are relatively often required treatment measures for gangrene.
It is not uncommon for congenital malformations to appear on the toes, the so-called syndactyly being the most common form. Here, the second and third toes have grown together, which, however, does not imply any functional restrictions and is only perceived as impairment by some people from a cosmetic point of view. Other possible malformations of the toes are shortening of one or more toes, the lack of toes and the appearance of excess toes. (fp)
(Photo 1: Nobilior / fotolia.com)