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Background Painful feet and lower limb dysfunction are risk factors for falling. Toenail deformities are common disorders in elderly people, but the relationship between nail deformities and lower limb function remains unclear. The aims of the present study were to assess the impairment of lower limb function in patients with deformities of the great toe and to determine whether foot care treatment is beneficial in reducing the risk of falling.
Methods Functional tests of the lower extremities were performed in 263 adults, including patients with any of hallux valgus, ingrown nail, or pachyonychia, and volunteers. Fifty-five subjects with nail disorders of the great toe received medical foot care treatment.
Results The presence of ingrown nail, pachyonychia, or tenderness of the great toe was significantly correlated with impaired postural performance and reduced muscular strength as assessed by functional tests. Medical foot care markedly reduced pain levels in the great toe and improved scores on functional tests of the lower extremities.
Conclusions Toenail disorders of the great toe cause dysfunction of the lower extremities and are likely to increase the risk of falling in daily life. Foot care management of toenail disorders has the potential to improve functional abilities in daily life, particularly in elderly individuals.