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Learn about your toe pain, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your toe pain from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Toe Pain Checker

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Your Toe Pain May Also be Known as:
Aches and pains in toe
Aches and pains in toes
He hurt his toe
He hurt his toes
Hurt her toe
Hurt her toes
Hurt his toe
Hurt his toes
Hurt my toe
Hurt my toes

Toe Pain Symptoms

There are many conditions that cause toe pain including medical illnesses, acute toe injuries, and chronic foot and toe problems leading to pain. Common chronic causes of toe pain include bunions, toe deformities, and toenail problems. Common toe injuries include sprain and fracture. Common medical problems leading to toe pain symptoms include gout, diabetes, and arthritis. Additionally, warts, corns, or calluses can cause toe pain. Some causes of toe pain like mild injuries can be treated at home with rest and ice. Most other causes of toe pain symptoms, including chronic issues, medical illnesses, or serious injuries require a doctor to diagnose and treat the condition.

Symptoms that can be associated with toe pain include:

Toe Pain Causes Overview

There are many different causes of toe pain, including chronic toe conditions that cause pain, acute injuries that lead to toe pain, and medical illnesses that can cause toe pain among other symptoms.

Chronic foot or toe conditions:

  • Bunions: A bunion is a malformation of the foot that causes the big toe to point inwards and leads to pain and difficulty walking. The cause of this deformity is unknown, but it increases with age.
  • Toe Deformity: There are several common toe deformities including hammertoe that can cause toe pain symptoms. Typically, these deformities arise from injury, inflammation, or trauma to the foot, although some are genetic. Diabetes and arthritis predispose patients to these types of deformities.
  • Nerve Problem: Compression of nerves in the foot can lead to toe pain. Typically, the pain associated with nerve compression is described as a burning sensation and is located in between toes.
  • Toenail Problems: There are multiple possible issues with the toenail that can cause toe pain. Ingrown toenails occur when the toenail pierces the skin around the nail leading to inflammation and possible infection. A hematoma can form underneath the nail if the setting of trauma which can cause pain and discoloration.

Injuries or acute toe conditions:

  • Fracture: Pain in the toe in the setting of trauma to the forefoot raises concern for a toe fracture. Typically, a fracture would present with acute pain, swelling, and possibly deformity to the area. Stress fractures in the toe may happen over time in the setting of overuse and would also cause pain and swelling to the affected toe.
  • Sprain: The most common type of toe sprain occurs with hyperextension of the big toe and is common among soccer or football players.
  • Warts: Warts can form on the bottom of the toes or feet, leading to toe pain. Warts are caused by a virus called HPV type 1. Calluses or corns are small lesions that form on the bottom of the toes or feet from excess pressure to the bottom of the foot and can be mistaken for warts but are not caused by a virus.

Medical conditions:

  • Gout: Gout typically causes intense pain in the large toe joint. Gout is a disease in which crystals deposit in the joint causing inflammation and pain. While gout can cause pain in other joints, the big toe joint is the most common location.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain and stiffness in the joints, particularly common in the finger and toe joints.
  • Diabetes: Over time, diabetes affects the nerves in the feet, which can lead to pain, burning, or numbness in the toes and feet. Because the toes may be numb, patients with diabetes are at higher risk of developing ulcers or sores on their feet or toes that go unnoticed. These have the potential to become infected and can be limb threatening.

Top 6 Toe Pain Causes

  1. 1.Ingrown Toenail

    Ingrown toenails are a common condition. This occurs when the nail grows into the soft skin of the toe, causing pain, redness, swelling, and in rare cases, infection.

    You can safely treat this condition at home. Soak the foot for 15 to 20 minutes at least three times a day. After the soak, place cotton or dental floss under the nail to guide it to grow above rather than into the skin. If infection is suspected, an over the counter antibiotic cream should be applied.

    Top Symptoms:
    toe pain, big toe pain, toenail pain, swollen toes, swelling of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th toe
    Symptoms that always occur with ingrown toenail:
    ingrown nail, toe pain
    Symptoms that never occur with ingrown toenail:
    pain between the 2nd and 3rd toe, pain in both feet, pain in the front half of the foot, heel pain, pain in the middle of the foot, foot pain that shoots to the toes, pain in one foot, pain in the outside of the foot
  2. 2.Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers. RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that it is caused by the immune system incorrectly attacking the joints when it shouldn't.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will coordinate care with a specialist. RA is a complex disease, which can require prescription medication to help slow down the damage to your joints, as well as pain killers such as ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Anaprox and Naprosyn). Exercise, especially swimming, can also help with pain and stiffness.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, muscle aches, joint pain, daytime sleepiness
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Hammer Toes (Contracted Toe)

    Hammer toe is a deformity of the second, third or fourth toe causing it to be permanently bent, resembling a hammer. It most frequently results from wearing poorly fitted shoes that force the toe into a bent position.

    You should visit your primary care physician if you are experiencing toe pain and/or concerned about the look of your toes. It can be corrected with physical therapy, new shoes or foot surgery in severe cases.

    Top Symptoms:
    toe pain, hammer toe
    Symptoms that always occur with hammer toes (contracted toe):
    hammer toe
    Primary care doctor

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  4. 4.Charcot Arthropathy of the Foot

    Charcot Arthropathy of the foot is a syndrome where patients with numbness of their feet, which can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions such as diabetes, develop weakening of the bones in the foot and ankle. Thus they may have fractures and dislocations of the bones and joints that occur with little trauma.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will likely coordinate care with a muscle and bone specialist (orthopedic surgeon). Treatment usually involves a protective split, walking brace, or cast.

    Top Symptoms:
    joint pain, painful foot swelling, constant foot swelling, pain in one foot, warm red foot swelling
    Symptoms that always occur with charcot arthropathy of the foot:
    warm red foot swelling, constant foot swelling
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Disseminated Gonococcal Infection

    Disseminated gonococcal infection (DGI) is an infection from a sexually transmitted bacteria known as Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It spreads to distant parts of the body beyond the original portal of entry and usually manifest by rash and arthritis.

    You should visit your primary care physician to confirm the diagnosis and discuss treatment options for managing symptoms.

    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, joint pain, fever, chills, moderate fever
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis

    The synovium is a thin layer of tissue that surrounds joints, providing a small amount of fluid to lubricate the joint and aid in movement. In pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS), the synovium thickens and overgrows. This mass typically only affects one joint, is not cancerous, and does not spread to other parts of the body.

    You should visit your primary care physician who will likely coordinate care with a muscle and bone specialist (orthopedic surgeon). The treatment for PVNS is surgery and radiation therapy.

    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one knee, spontaneous knee pain, swollen knee, joint pain, pain in the inside of the knee
    Symptoms that never occur with pigmented villonodular synovitis:
    knee instability
    Primary care doctor

Toe Pain Treatments and Relief

Some causes of toe pain can be treated at home. Minor injuries such as sprains can be treated with rest and ice, as well as over the counter pain medications. For more serious injuries such as fracture, seek medical attention. For other chronic causes of toe pain, a visit to the doctor may be helpful in diagnosing and treating the pain. If you suspect a medical illness is the cause of your toe pain, a visit to the doctor will likely help diagnose and treat the toe pain symptoms.

If you have diabetes and you have an ulcer or wound on your foot, seek treatment promptly. Diabetic foot ulcers can become infected and be limb-threatening.

Home toe pain treatments include:

  • Over-the-counter pain medication : If your toe pain is due to an acute or chronic injury, over the counter pain medication such as ibuprofen (an NSAID) or acetaminophen may help relieve the symptoms.
  • Rest : If your toe pain is related to sports or exercise, taking a break from the activity that causes pain may help with recovery.
  • Ice : If your toe pain is related to inflammation or minor injury such as a sprain, placing ice on the area may help to alleviate pain.

Medical professional toe pain treatments include:

  • Steroid Infection : In some cases of toe pain, an injection of steroids may reduce inflammation and help the pain. Your doctor can help determine if this is the appropriate treatment for your toe pain symptoms.
  • Medications : If your toe pain is due to gout, diabetes, or arthritis, your doctor may prescribe medication to control your illness that will help control the symptom of toe pain. If your doctor suspects an infection in your toe or foot, they may prescribe antibiotics.
  • Orthotics or Special Shoes : If your doctor suspects your toe pain is due to bunions or another deformity, they may suggest orthotic shoe inserts or even special shoes to help with the toe pain symptoms.
  • Wart Removal : If your toe pain is due to warts, your doctor may suggest wart removal. There are multiple different types of removal, and your doctor can help you figure out the best one for your condition.
  • Surgery : If you doctor determines a bunion or other structural issue is the cause of your toe pain, they may recommend surgical correction. A podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon can help determine if surgery is the appropriate treatment for your toe pain.

FAQs About Toe Pain

Here are some frequently asked questions about toe pain.

Why does my toe hurt at night?

Morton's neuroma and diabetic neuropathy can both cause pain in the toes and feet that is worse at night. Morton's neuroma is caused by overly tight shoes and overpronation of the foot. It can occur between the first and third interdigital spaces or the second and fourth interdigital spaces and radiate toward the toes. Diabetic neuropathy is caused by long-standing diabetes and can cause loss of pain or vibratory sense in the toes, leading to ulcer formation.

Why do my toes curl up?

Claw toes are a type of toe contracture in which the metatarsophalangeal joint faces upward. They are more common in women and more common in individuals in their 7th decade (60s). Younger patients have a higher chance of having a secondary cause of claw toes. This includes disorders like inflammatory arthropathies (rheumatoid arthritis or RA), diabetic neuropathy, or a neuromuscular condition.

What causes pain in the toes while walking?

Many things can cause pain in the toes while walking, including a deviation of the joint or damage to a joint from stress over a long time, an infection or inflammation because of an overactive immune system, a tightening of some of the connective tissue that fixes a toe in a particular position, as well as common trauma to a bone or nail. A common cause of pain while walking is metatarsalgia, which happens when the structure of the foot is changing and the foot becomes less able to support changes. It is often described as feeling as if one is stepping on a stone. Appropriate diagnosis of foot pain requires diagnosis by a general practitioner or a podiatrist.

Can ingrown toenails cause toe pain?

Yes, an ingrown toenail is caused when a nail plate punctures part of the nail fold and causes inflammation. They can also cause infection. Usually, an ingrown toenail is slightly red, swollen, and tender to touch or pressure. Mild cases can be soaked or pulled out of the tissue with sterile items, and anything more severe may require a quick medical procedure done in a physician or podiatrist's office.

Why can't I feel my toes?

You may not be able to feel your toes for a variety of reasons. The most common reason for loss of sensation is cold temperature. Cold temperature causes a constriction of blood vessels that carry blood to the toes, and cold temperatures also tend to slow down nerve impulses to a particular part of the body, including but not limited to the toes. Other causes of sudden onset of loss of toe sensation may need immediate evaluation.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Toe Pain

  • Q.Is your foot pain getting better or worse?
  • Q.How severe is your foot pain?
  • Q.Is the pain affecting:
  • Q.Have you ever been told you have flat feet?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our toe pain symptom checker.

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Toe Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced toe pain have also experienced:

    • 5% Swollen Toes
    • 4% Foot Pain
    • 4% Big Toe Pain
  • People who have experienced toe pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 39% Over a Month
    • 22% Less Than a Week
    • 20% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced toe pain were most often matched with:

    • 4% Rheumatoid Arthritis
    • 1% Hammer Toes (Contracted Toe)
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Toe Pain Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having toe pain.

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