Toe Pain: An Introduction

Toe pain is a relatively common condition that affects a large number of individuals from time to time. The human foot is an incredibly complex structure which consists of twenty-six bones, bound together by muscles, tendons, ligaments, and numerous joints. Our feet are particularly susceptible to injury or recurring conditions, given the amount that we use our feet every single day.

It is worth paying attention to the slightest pain in the toes or feet, as some of these conditions, if allowed to worsen, may easily result in restricted movement or limited mobility for the individual.

If you find yourself complaining “my toe hurts,” that may be a symptom of something as simple as wearing inappropriately fitted shoes, or could be a sign of more serious conditions such as arthritis or Morton’s neuroma. In any case, pay careful attention to any kind of toe pain that may arise, in addition to other symptoms such as redness or swelling. Should you need to consult a doctor or seek further medical help, being able to describe your symptoms are an important factor in obtaining an accurate diagnosis.

There are different types of toe pain that one may encounter, and they may be broken down into these categories:

  • Pain in the toes when walking, running, or engaging in other forms of exercise.
  • Pain in the toes before or after exercise, but not during.
  • Continuous pain in toes and toe joints.
  • Sharp or shooting pain in toes, or more severe pain that limits movement.

Why does my big toe hurt? There may be multiple reasons for this, but no matter what type of toe pain you may have, it is always wise to consult a doctor to determine the exact cause. Even minor pain, inflammation or tingling sensations might in some instances be symptoms of more serious problems. Once you are sure of what the exact problem is home treatment will sometimes be sufficient to address the less serious conditions.

Physical injury is the most common cause of pain in the toes; this may be a result of splinters, cuts or open wounds, damage to the toe or toenail, the removal of a toenail, fractures, sprained or twisted joints, dislocated joints, inflammation, burns, or blisters. Less commonly, if your toe hurts this may be caused by common infections which have reached an acute stage, such as athlete’s foot (a fungal infection which often affects the toes), or cellulitis (a skin infection). Wounds affecting the toes that are left untreated or allowed to become septic could also be a cause of toe pain. Other factors that might influence common toe problems include: posture, gait (the way you walk), blood circulation, flat feet, or even high foot arches.

The following are a few other symptoms you should pay attention to. These include but are not limited to pain-related sensations: numbness, burning, soreness, joint pain, swollenness/swelling/inflammation, skin discoloration, and cold toes or lack of circulation.

The list that follows below details a number of common conditions and diseases that affect the toes and feet. They are frequently causes of significant pain in the toes and feet. Use the Symptom Checker to find out the possible causes of the toe pain. Most likely causes come to the top of the list.

Symptom Checker

It's my big toe
It's not a big toe
A visible deformity
Skin/nail damaged
It's something inside
An injury or trauma occured
The pain is tough at night
Inflamation / redness / heat
It's swollen
The toe is stiff
Gout / Podagra
Hallux Limitus / Hallux Rigidus
Hallux Valgus / Bunions
Hallux Varus
Ingrown Toenail
Broken Toe
Hammer Toe
Morton's Neuroma
Sprained Toe
Turf Toe