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The abductor hallucis is a muscle in the foot that can become injured as a result of a direct trauma, overuse, pronation, and other injuries. Treatment for an abductor hallucis injury will vary according to how severely the muscle has been injured; a muscle strain, for example, is usually treated with the RICE treatment as well as stretching and massaging of the muscle. More severe injuries, such as a muscle tear, must be treated by a doctor who may recommend immobilization, stretching, or in the most severe cases, minor surgery. This is a rare treatment for a rare injury.
Treatment for an abductor hallucis injury is usually similar to other types of muscle injuries. The RICE treatment is the first step; RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. These actions are meant to prevent further injury and reduce swelling and irritation to the the muscle. Compression and elevation will stimulate blood flow to the injury, thereby promoting faster healing. Resting the foot allows the muscle to repair itself naturally without risking further injury due to motion that causes further tearing of the muscle fibers. An abductor hallucis strain occurs when the tiny fibers that make up the muscle begin to tear, so allowing the foot to rest will prevent more tearing and help the fibers reconnect.
Injury to this muscle can lead to nerve pain as well. A doctor or physical therapist may be able to gently massage the muscle to loosen it, thereby allowing the nerve to become uncompressed. Once the abductor hallucis is sufficiently loosened, the big toe of the foot should be stretched as well to allow the foot to become more limber. Nerve pain may be indicated by sharp pains in the heel of the foot, or numbness and tingling throughout the foot. If this occurs, it is best to consult a doctor for the best treatment.
Once the injury has begun to heal, you may want to consider wearing a foot brace until the injury heals completely. Be sure to wear supportive footwear that will not aggravate the injury; shoes with insoles that have a high arch may end up irritating the injury, but shoes with low arches may not support the abductor hallucis sufficiently, leading to further problems. Be sure to stay off the foot as much as possible; walk less than you would normally throughout your day, and avoid athletic activities that may re-injure the muscle.
When I was playing tennis a few years back I actually ended up injuring my abductor hallucis during a game. I didn't know it at the time, I just thought that I had landed on my foot the wrong way and was suffering from a slight sprain.
The abductor hallucis is a long muscle that runs down the side of your foot, pretty much up towards your big toe. For myself I was lucky and only need the RICE treatment to make my foot feel better. The hardest part of treatment was not being able to walk on my foot.
My doctor warned me that if I walked with a strained abductor hallucis that I could injure it further and possibly need surgery. Needless to say, I stayed in bed.