Toe Pain: Why Does My Toe Hurt?

Pain is never normal!

  • There are many reasons why you might have toe pain and it is important to identify the cause so you can get on the path to fixing it or at least controlling the problem.  Here are some of the most common causes and potential treatments for toe pain.

Your toe pain can be from arthritis.

  • The most common area of arthritis in the foot is at the big toe joint. This is called Hallux limitus/rigidus. Arthritis or wear and tear of the cartilage causes inflammation of the joint causing swelling, redness, warmth, and pain. The big toe is necessary to push off every step you take, so if this joint begins to stiffen, toe pain can make walking a challenge.

Your toe pain can be caused by gout.

  • Gout is a form of arthritis that is known to cause severe toe pain. The pain and swelling is often so sever that you can’t put a shoe or even a sock on! With gout, excess uric acid crystals gather around the joints at the big toe. Gout is a disease known to exist in men much more than in women.

Your toe pain may be caused by a toe deformity.

  • Conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, claw toes and mallet toes cause the toes to curl or bend in abnormal positions putting abnormal stress on the joints and causing pain. They also can cause rubbing in your shoes that leads to corns and blisters on your toes. Different toe joints may be affected by these conditions and the toe pain can be debilitating making shoes difficult to wear.

Your toe pain may be from a toenail problem 

  • A problem like an ingrown toenail or fungus could be causeing your pain. Ingrown toenail occur when the toenail grows into the skin of the toe and most often occurs in the big toe. Ingrown toenails are caused by: inherited toenail deformities, improper nail cutting, improperly fitting shoes, curved toenails or trauma to the toe. Part of the toe pain is often caused by infection in the toe due to this condition. Fungal infections known as onychomycosis can also cause toenail pain. The fungus lifts the toenail and causes an ingrown toenail.

Your toe pain may be caused by a pinched nerve or compression of the metatarsal heads.

  • Metatarsalgia or an intermetatarsal neuroma are conditions that can cause toe pain, usually in the form of numbness and tingling. It occurs when the nerves in the feet at the level of the metatarsal heads get irritated or compressed. Toe pain from metatarsalgia and/or a neuroma usually also has ball of the foot pain associated with it.

How can I make my toe pain go away?

  • After you have narrowed the cause of toe pain, it’s time to try and fix it!

Quick fixes include wider and deeper toe box shoes, anti-inflammatories, ice, skin lubricants and rest. Long-term fixes may include functional foot orthotics, padding, and even surgery.

Bottom line: Toe pain is not normal and if it last for more than a few days or is severe, contact us for an appointment so we can evaluate and treat the cause of your toe pain.