Did you know a total of 14 bones make up your toes? And with the exception of your big toes, all your other toes each have three joints. You might not think much about those bones and joints in your toes… until they hurt.
It isn’t uncommon for feet to feel tired after a particularly long day or a hard workout, but what if your feet aren’t just tired. What if your toes hurt? Foot injuries can be a common source of toe pain, but acute injuries aren’t the only source. Toe pain can also be the result of a specific condition and may require podiatric intervention.
It’s hard to figure out why your toe hurts on your own, but luckily, you aren’t alone. Michael Tran, DPM is an expert podiatrist skilled in diagnosing and treating toe pain. Whether you’re dealing with a fracture, bunions, ingrown nails, or hammertoes, come see Dr. Tran at AllCare Foot & Ankle Center with offices in Dallas and Arlington, Texas. He can help you get back on your feet without pain.
Here are five potential causes of chronic toe pain.
1. Ingrown nails
Ingrown nails form when the edge of your nail digs into the skin on the side of your nail. This causes swelling, inflammation, and discomfort. Left untreated, ingrown nails can become infected. They are also more likely to form if you cut your nails too short or too round, and they are common among dancers, runners, and other athletes.
You can soak your nail in warm, soapy water to ease discomfort, but if you have diabetes, it’s important to skip the at-home treatments and seek podiatric care.
Bunions, also known as hallux valgus, look like a bony bump on your big toe. This toe deformity forms as a result of chronic pressure on your metatarsophalangeal joint, which forces your toe out of alignment. You might suspect your toe pain is related to bunions if your toe:
- Features the telltale bump on your toe joint
- Is red and inflamed
- Has reduced mobility
- Is stiff
Bunions are more common on your big toe, but they can form on your pinky toe. These are called bunionettes or tailor’s bunions.
Gout is a type of arthritis characterized by severe toe pain. Known as “gout attacks,” the sudden and intense toe pain forms when sharp, jagged uric acid crystals accumulate in your big toe. Gout pain can be so severe that even your blanket or sheets are painful. Gout attacks are also accompanied by joint stiffness, redness, swelling, and difficulty standing or walking.
4. Corn, calluses, and hammertoes
A hammertoe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of your second, third, or fourth toe. Hammertoes receive this name because the bend resembles the head of a hammer. Not only do hammertoes hurt, but they can also rub against shoes, causing further irritation. This is why hammertoes often lead to corns and calluses.
Maybe you’ve stubbed your toe? Or maybe you dropped a heavy item on your foot? Now you’re wondering if you broke a toe. Your toe bones, although small, are still susceptible to fractures. You might suspect your pain is related to a fracture if you:
- Sustained an injury
- Notice immediate swelling
- See bruising develop quickly
You might be tempted to “buddy tape” an injured toe, but sometimes dislocations accompany fractures. It’s best to rule out any dislocations and confirm a fracture with an X-ray.
Finding relief from chronic toe pain
There’s no reason to just “live with the pain.” To schedule an appointment with Dr. Tran, call the AllCare Foot & Ankle Center office closest to you. We’re located in Dallas and Arlington, Texas.