Yes, you are looking INSIDE this toe. That IS a screw and metal plate in that toe.
What kind of stuff finds its way into your office ? I get all kinds of things it seems, at least once a day something comes in that makes me scratch my head.
This client just wanted my opinion and thoughts on their toe and their gait once they are ambulating again. They have had multiple surgeries to this poor foot. You can see multiple scars over multiple digits and metatarsals. This is the 3rd surgery to the big toe, the last 2 have been attempts at correcting failed prior surgeries. This is obviously the last straw surgery, total fusion of the metatarsophalangeal joint. What is interesting in this case is that this plate was taken out about 4 weeks ago, and the skin was stretched back over and the wound closed up (forgot to take update photo for you). I saw it yesterday, and I was amazed at how healed up the area was. They are months post op now, and they can load the toe heavily now, that is always amazing to me. The body’s healing ability is a miracle. Of course, if you have been with us here long enough you will know that my “concern button” immediately got pushed but the client was proactive and asked the question before my oral diarrhea of concerns started.
So, they wanted to know about their gait and what to watch out for. Off the top of your head, without thinking, you should be able to rattle off the following:
- impaired toe off
- premature heel rise
- watchful eye on achilles issues
- impaired hip extension and gluteal function
- impaired terminal ankle plantar flexion (because they cannot access the synergists FHL and FHB)
- impaired terminal ankle dorsi flexion (because they cannot access the synergists EHL and EHB)
- lateral toe off which will promote ankle and foot inversion, which will challenge the peronei
- frontal plane hip-pelvis drift because of the lateral toe off and lack of glute function
- possible low back pain/tightness because of the frontal plane pelvis drift and from altered hip extension motor patterning (and glute impairment)
- possible knee pain from tracking challenges because they cannot complete medial tripod loading and thus sufficient pronation to internally spin the limb to get the knee to sagittal loading
- impaired arm swing, more notable contralaterally
There is more, but that is enough for now. You need to know total body mechanics, movement patterns, normal gait cycle events (you have to know normal to know abnormal) and more. You have to know what normal is to understand when you are looking at abnormal.
* So, dial this back to something more simple, a “stubbed toe”, a painful sesamoid, painful pronation or a turf toe or hallux limitus. They will all have the same list of complications that need to be evaluated, considered and addressed. This list should convey the importance that if your client has low back pain, examining the big toe motion is critical. Also, if you are just looking at the foot and toe in these cases, pack your bags … . you don’t belong here. If you are just adjusting feet and toes and playing with orthotics while the list above does not constantly file back and forth through your brain, again, pack all your bags, grab your cat and leave town (just kidding, try reading more and get to some seminars).
If you know the complicated things, then the simple things become … … . . simple.
Your local treadmill gait analysis guru should know all of this if they are going to recommend shoes and exercises. Shame on them if there is no physical exam however. The data roadmap from the gait analysis software print out is not going to get you even out of the driveway let alone down the street. The data is going to tell you what you are doing to compensate, not tell you what is wrong. You must know anatomy, biomechanics, neurology, orthopedics and how to apply them to get the recipe right, not just which shoe in a store will unload the medial tripod of the foot or which exercise will lengthen your stride on the left.
… . sorry for the rant, too much coffee this morning, obviously.
Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys