Toe pain: causes, treatment and when to see a doctor (2023)

Toe pain has a variety of causes, ranging from injuries to chronic health conditions and joint deformities. Most causes of toe pain are not serious and can be treated with conservative treatment. However, the pain can significantly affect your ability to bear weight through your toes, which can limit your ability to stand and walk comfortably.

This article discusses common causes of toe pain, its diagnosis, treatment options, and when you should see a doctor for toe pain.

Toe pain: causes, treatment and when to see a doctor (1)


Various causes of toe pain can produce symptoms such as redness, swelling, stiffness, tingling, and limited range of motion. Some causes of toe pain come on suddenly, while others develop gradually over time.


arthrosis, also called degenerative joint disease, is a condition that causes pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joints due to cartilage breakdown.

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but it is more likely to affect the big toe than the other four toes. Osteoarthritis tends to develop over time due to wear-related changes with age, but it can also develop more quickly after an injury.


dropIt is an inflammatory form of arthritis in which crystals form in the joints due to high levels of uric acid in the body.

Gout causes pain, redness, and swelling in joints, most commonly the big toe. Seafood and alcohol can increase gout attacks, so it's best not to eat these foods if you have gout symptoms.

peat finger

peat fingerrefers to a weight-bearing hyperextension sprain of the big toe that occurs when the foot pushes against the turf.

It was first diagnosed in the 1970s and named after football players who seemed to get it frequently. However, turf toe can occur in many different sports and activities, but particularly in athletes playing on artificial turf, which is more rigid and has less ability to yield than natural grass.

Big toe can be the result of a strong push from the turf or, over time, repetitive stress on the big toe joint.


A broken bone (fracture) can occur in either finger. Fractures of the toes cause significant pain, bruising, swelling, difficulty moving the toes, and difficulty putting weight on the toes when standing or walking.


Sesamoid bones are small oval bones embedded in a tendon to improve the tendon's line of pull. The tendon of one of the muscles that causes the big toe to bend (flex) (flexor hallucis brevis) has two sesamoid bones that lie near the joint of the big toe.

The big toe takes a lot of pressure during movements like running and jumping, so repetitive activities can cause pain and inflammation in the sesamoid bones. This state is calledsesamoidite.

Sesamoiditis is more likely to occur in people who wear poor-quality shoes and in people with altered foot alignment, such as flat feet or club feet.

And she was

ANAnd she wasIt is a foot deformity that causes the big toe to move towards the other toes. Bunions are most often caused by wearing tight shoes that squeeze your toes, but genetics also play a role.

Bunions can be painful and the change in alignment of the big toe joint can make walking uncomfortable.

Calluses, calluses and blisters

calluses and callusesThese are areas of hard, thick skin that can develop from repeated rubbing, rubbing, or squeezing of the feet and toes. Calluses are small, hard areas of skin that are usually found on the bony parts of the foot, while calluses are larger patches of hardened skin.BlowThey form when repeated pressure and friction causes fluid to build up under the skin.

Corns, calluses and blisters on the toes are often the result of wearing ill-fitting shoes, long walks or going barefoot. They can cause pain when standing and walking.

ingrown toenails

ingrown toenailsThey occur when the edges or corners of the toenails grow into the skin next to the nails. Injuries to your toes, tight shoes, poor foot hygiene, and genetics can all increase your chances of developing an ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenails can cause redness, swelling, pain, and sometimes bleeding and infection.

claw and hammer fingers

Finger misalignment is a common cause of finger pain. Claw toe is when the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint and distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint bend downward. Hammer toe refers to when only the PIP joint bends downward.

Claw toes and hammer toes are more likely to develop in adults between the ages of 40 and 50 and in people with bunions, inflammatory forms of arthritis, and previous injuries to the feet and toes.


dactiliterefers to swelling of the fingers or toes that creates a sausage-like appearance. Dactylitis is most commonly associated withpsoriasis-arthritis, an autoimmune inflammatory form of arthritis that develops in people withsoriase, an inflammatory disease of the skin. Dactylitis causes the fingers and toes to become red, swollen, and painful.

peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy results from damage to the nerves in the arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet and hands. It causes symptoms such as numbness, tingling, burning, reduced sensation and pain.

Damage to peripheral nervous system nerves can occur due to injury, diabetes, Guillain-Barré syndrome, peripheral vascular disease, infection, or as a side effect of chemotherapy treatment.

Causes of pain in hands and feet

When to consult a healthcare professional

Small problems that can cause pain in your toes, especially if you walk a lot and/or wear tight or uncomfortable shoes, usually go away within a few days. If toe pain lasts longer than a week, contact your doctor. They can determine the underlying cause and help you start the proper treatment.

Certain signs and symptoms indicate that you need to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional:

  • Your pain significantly affects your ability to stand or walk.
  • Cannot move toe without pain
  • Your toe is red, hot or swollen
  • You lose feeling in your toe
  • You have other symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, or unexplained weight loss.

To diagnose

To diagnose the cause of your toe pain, a doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your medical history, including how and when your symptoms started.

Depending on the nature of your condition, your doctor may want to perform imaging tests or blood tests to determine the underlying cause of your toe pain.

medical history

During a visit to your doctor, your medical history will be reviewed. This includes noting any medical conditions you have and noting how and when the toe pain started.

Your doctor will also ask questions about your condition, such as:

  • In addition to pain, do you have other symptoms such as tingling, numbness, swelling, burning, or muscle weakness?
  • Has the pain gotten worse over time?
  • Does the pain occur at rest or only when standing or walking?
  • Has your foot or toes been injured or previously injured?

Tell your doctor if you have recently had an infection or if you have any unusual symptoms such as fever, tiredness or unexplained weight loss. These factors may indicate that an atypical systemic condition is causing your toe pain.

Physical exam

After reviewing your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will perform a physical exam to examine your foot and toes. They will examine and feel the foot and toes and move the joints in the toes to see if their movement is restricted or painful.

During the physical exam, the doctor will look for signs of:

  • redness
  • heat
  • swelling
  • sensitivity
  • bruises
  • deafness
  • abnormal skin texture

blood test

In most cases of toe pain, a blood test is not necessary and is only recommended when a diagnosis of gout, psoriatic arthritis, or infection is suspected.

Blood tests can be used to testuric acid levelsin the blood, which are often increased in people with gout. Blood tests can also be used to measure levels ofC-reactive protein(PCR) eerythrocyte sedimentation rate(ESR): Two inflammatory markers that are commonly elevated in autoimmune diseases such as psoriatic arthritis.

ANcomplete blood count (CBC)which measures your immune system cells to help your doctor determine if you have an infection or autoimmune disease.


Imaging tests can be used to look at the structures in and around the toe joint to check for damage.X rayThey are usually done first to look for signs of arthritis or broken bones. If a tendon or ligament injury is suspected, it may be necessary to have aTRMto check for a sprain or tear.

common effort

If pain, redness, and swelling in one of your toes suggests a joint infection or a condition like gout, your doctor may do the following:common aspirationto remove fluid from the toe joint. This fluid is then tested for abnormalities.


Treatment options for toe pain vary depending on the cause and severity of symptoms. Many causes of toe pain can be treated conservatively with medications and home treatments, but surgery may be necessary for severe or chronic injuries.

Lifestyle treatment options

Simple home methods can be used to treat toe pain, including:

  • Ice or heat to relieve pain.
  • Topical pain-relieving creams or gels
  • Gentle finger stretching.
  • Recovery from standing and walking for a long time
  • Wear supportive, well-fitting shoes
  • Bandages or pads to reduce friction and pressure.
  • Splint or immobilize your toes for support so they can heal
  • Make dietary changes, such as cutting out seafood and alcohol if you have gout.


If necessary, pain relievers can be used. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such asnonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)or higher prescription strengthopioidscan be taken orally. You may need your medication delivered via asteroid injectionin the foot joint.

If you have a systemic condition that causes toe pain, your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce inflammation throughout your body. For example, colchicine or allopurinol to treat gout, antibiotics to treat infections, and disease-modifying anti-inflammatory drugs.DMARDobiologicalto treat autoimmune diseases such as psoriatic arthritis.


For injuries or significant deformities in the toes that cause persistent pain and limit your ability to stand and walk comfortably, surgery may be considered to improve the alignment of the toe joints.

Surgery is only considered after trying other treatments for several weeks or months. The exception is if you have a severe toe fracture, in which case surgery can be done as soon as possible.

Causes of toe pain that may require surgery include:

  • broken fingers
  • And she was
  • Severe cases of turf finger
  • Severe osteoarthritis of the big toe
  • Hammer and claw deformities
  • sesamoidite


The most important factor when it comes to preventing toe pain is wearing supportive shoes that fit properly. Many toe injuries and conditions result from increased friction and compression from shoes that are too stiff or too tight.

Supportive shoes with arch support, a sturdy sole, a padded footbed, and a toe cap large enough to prevent toe compression can help prevent irritation to your skin, nails, and finger joints.


Toe pain can be due to a variety of causes, including osteoarthritis, gout, soggy toes, bunions, ingrown toenails, fractures, sesamoiditis, dactylitis, claw and hammer toes, peripheral neuropathy, and corns, calluses, and blisters.

While most causes of toe pain can be treated with home treatments and medications, some severe or persistent causes of toe pain may require surgery to correct the alignment of the toe joint and relieve pain.

Wearing proper, supportive footwear is key to preventing and treating many causes of toe pain.

A Word from Verywell

Finger movement, particularly the big toe, is essential for walking correctly in your daily activities. While many causes of toe pain can be treated and treated at home, see your doctor if you experience pain for more than a week.

If left untreated, the causes of toe pain can significantly affect your ability to walk and balance. It's best to treat them early to prevent the conditions from causing permanent damage.

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