What causes toe pain? Is it a serious situation? When should you see a doctor? How does it go? What should we do? You can find the answers to all these questions and much more below.

About toe pain

Big toe pain is often the result of injury or minor underlying medical conditions. Arthritis, fractures, and gout can all cause toe pain.

Most causes of big toe pain can be easily treated with over-the-counter medications. However, some causes, such as sesamoiditis, may require more in-depth clinical treatment.

This article will allow you to know enough about common causes of pain in the big toe, some of their symptoms and treatments.

What causes toe pain?

Here are the causes of substance-related toe pain:

1- Arthritis

According to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Association , hallux rigidus is the most common cause of arthritis pain at the base of the big toe. This condition causes pain and swelling around the thumb and affects about 1 in 40 people over the age of 50. It is more common in women than men.


The most common symptom is pain when walking or doing any physical activity that puts pressure on your feet and toes. Other symptoms may include:

  • Swelling near the joint of the big toe
  • a painful lump above the joint
  • Trouble moving the big toe


Treatments for hallux rigidus include nonsurgical and surgical options. Nonsurgical treatments may include:

  • cold and hot compress
  • pain relievers
  • Platelet-rich plasma injections
  • wearing different shoes, such as tighter-soled shoes

Some of the surgical options may include:

  • fuse the joint
  • Removal of any bone spurs
  • joint replacement

2- Ingrown toenail

An ingrown toenail is a common cause of toe pain or discomfort. It can occur if a person cuts their toenail too short or bends it too much while cutting. Wearing tight shoes can worsen the condition and even make the toenail ingrown.

Read More  Pain in Left Side and Left Leg: Sciatica


There are several possible symptoms of an ingrown toenail. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons , symptoms may include:

  • A hard, swollen, or tender toe
  • big toe pain
  • darkening of the skin
  • pus oozing from the area in case of infection


Treatment typically begins with nonsurgical options, but a doctor may operate on stubborn ingrown toenails. Nonsurgical treatments may include:

  • taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • soaking the foot in a warm bath three or four times a day
  • Keeping the feet dry and removing sweaty socks as soon as possible
  • Wearing breathable, comfortable shoes

Surgical options include:

  • Partial removal of the wreck
  • Complete removal of the wreck
  • Permanent nail removal (usually required for chronic cases)

3- gout

Gout is a condition in which uric acid builds up in a person’s joints. This condition most commonly occurs in the big toe, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons . The body typically removes uric acid through the urine, but in some conditions, such as gout, it can build up in the joints, causing crystallization.


Symptoms of gout include:

  • Inflammation that causes darkening, swelling, or warmth of the skin in the affected joint
  • Intense pain that occurs in the middle of the night or when a person first wakes up
  • Skin flare over the affected joint


The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons states that gout-related inflammation typically resolves within 3-10 days. General treatments may include:

  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • keep feet elevated
  • rest while doing any activity
  • taking medication to treat inflammation and pain

People with gout should also avoid consuming beverages and foods high in purines, such as alcohol, bacon, liver, and some types of seafood.

4- Grass finger

Grass toe is an injury to the big toe joint that occurs during sports activities.

According to the American College of Surgeons of the Foot and Ankle , this injury happens due to repeated upward bending or pinching of the big toe. Repetitive jumping or running can cause the big toe to bend. This is more common in athletes playing on artificial turf.

Read More  What is Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis)?


Grass toe is typically the result of repetitive movements. As a result, toe pain and swelling will usually increase gradually over time. In addition to pain, a person may notice swelling and loss of mobility in the joint.

If a person experiences an acute injury, the pain comes on suddenly and can worsen within 24 hours.


Stopping the activity that aggravates the toe is usually the best course of treatment. Doing so helps prevent the injury from getting worse. Generally, treatment includes rest, cold compresses, compression and elevating the feet.

A doctor may recommend wearing less flexible shoes while playing sports. Surgery may be necessary as a last resort for severe injuries.

5- Sesamoidit

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons , sesamoids are bones that attach to tendons or are embedded in muscles. For example, the kneecap is the largest sesamoid.

Sesamoiditis occurs when the tendons around the sesamoid under the big toe become inflamed or irritated. This condition is common in runners and ballet dancers.


In addition to pain, symptoms of sesamoiditis can include:

  • Trouble moving the big toe
  • Gradual increase in pain
  • bruising
  • Swelling of the toes ( toe swelling )
  • pain in toes


There are several potential treatment options for sesamoiditis. Some treatment options a doctor may recommend include:

  • steroid injections
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and swelling
  • Binding, padding, or taping of the toe or foot
  • Use of special orthopedic devices
  • Physiotheraphy

6- Broken

Finger fractures or fractures are common occurrences. A fracture in or around the big toe can cause big toe pain. Fractures often occur as a result of:

  • kicking a hard object
  • Dropping a heavy object on the toe
  • repeatedly performing a movement that puts pressure on the toe


Pain and swelling in the toe are two common symptoms, but the affected person may also notice discoloration around the toe.


Treatment options will vary depending on the severity of the finger fracture. In the case of blunt, sudden trauma, steps a person can take include:

  • avoiding putting weight on the toe
  • keep feet elevated
  • using ice to reduce swelling
  • wrapping the toe

In some cases, the doctor may also offer further treatment options.

Read More  Ankle Pain: Causes and Treatment

7- Gray light

Hallux valgus or bunion is a deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe and is a possible cause of big toe pain. In this case, the joint protrudes outward and forms a visible bump on the side of the foot. This abnormality causes the toe to point in the opposite direction and potentially overlap the toe next to it.

Most shoes put pressure on the protruding joint, and over time the pressure can cause the fluid-filled sac in the joint to swell and become inflamed.


Hallux valgus; can cause big toe pain, swelling, inflammation, and pain. The edge of the big toe visibly points outward.


To alleviate symptoms, the affected person should wear shoes that do not put extra pressure on the joint. A wide and flexible sole is ideal.

Some additional treatments may include:

  • Special pads designed for this situation
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen
  • Adding applying ice
  • Massage

If the simple treatments above do not work, surgery may be the last option.

Other causes of big toe pain

Other possible causes of big toe pain include:

  • nail infections
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • Morton neuroma
  • rheumatic joint inflammation

Additional symptoms and treatments may vary depending on the exact cause of the pain.

When to see a doctor for big toe pain?

In cases of sudden injury or unexplained pain, the affected person should see their doctor for diagnosis and treatment. A doctor may recommend home treatments or other medical interventions that relieve pain.

How is toe pain relieved?

Many causes of big toe pain can be treated. For simple injuries, a person may just need to rest, apply ice, and use pain relievers as needed.

More serious injuries or medical conditions may require surgery or other medical interventions. In most cases, a person can make a full recovery if they treat the underlying condition or avoid the activity that caused the injury.

As a result

Big toe pain is often the result of injury or minor medical conditions. In most cases, the cause is easy to treat and completely curable. The affected person should avoid activities that cause more pain and follow all treatment recommendations of their doctor.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.