Taking care of your body means being aware of sudden changes that can occur -- especially in the feet. If your toe is showing signs of redness and pain, you may have a blood clot. This can be caused by an array of medical problems and conditions. If you suspect a blood clot or problem with your foot or big toe, you need to seek medical care immediately. Failure to do so could be life-threatening or cause you to lose your big toe.
Any type of blood clot in the body can be dangerous. When your blood forms a clot within your veins, it is cutting off the flow of blood supply. This can prevent blood flow to certain organs in the body. If a blood clot has developed within your big toe, circulation could cease or be limited -- causing the blood supply to be cut off. This could lead to bone and tissue damage or death. In some cases, the blood clot could also break free and travel to your lungs or heart, causing a pulmonary embolism -- resulting in sudden death, explains MedlinePlus, an online resource of the National Institutes of Health.
One of the most common causes of a blood clot within the big toe is due to surgery. If you have had bunion surgery or any type of corrective surgery involving your toes or foot, you have an increased risk of a blood clot. If you are immobile, bed ridden or have been in an airplane for an extended period of time, you increase your risk for blood clots in the toes and lower legs -- this is referred to as deep vein thrombosis or DVT, notes the American Council on Exercise. Being diagnosed with peripheral artery disease or PAD -- a condition in which there is limited blood flow to the legs and toes -- lupus, heart disease or diabetes also increases your risk for developing a blood clot in your big toe.
A blood clot can be hard to identify initially. One of the main symptoms is pain, tenderness and redness in and around the toe or affected area. If you have a history of PAD, your doctor may give you certain signs to look for in case of a blood clot. These signs include tingling or pain in your toes, painful to the slightest touch, foot ulcers, blood clots or dark spots under the toenail and shiny tight skin, reports "The New York Times Health Guide."
Treatment involves seeking immediate medical attention. In some cases, you may have to have surgery to treat or remove the blood clot. Your physician may prescribe a blood thinner, such as Heparin, which will help loosen the clot and prevent it from re-forming. You may be evaluated to determine the exact cause of the clot, which may involve being treated for an underlying condition, such as heart disease, or superficial thrombophelbitis, an inflammation in the superficial veins.
You can prevent a blood clot in your big toe by making sure you have adequate blood flow at all times. This means avoiding sitting for long periods of times, lying down for more than 12 hours at a time and avoiding socks or clothing that can constrict blood flow to the feet. Follow your doctor's orders when taking anti-coagulant medications and get up to 30 minutes of exercise per day, up to five days a week to improve blood flow and maintain heart health.