Top 5 Causes of Toe Pain and How to Fix Them

People are still spending lots more time at home. Because of this, you may have discovered new and exciting things about you feet. I guess we all have more time to look at our feet and think “What is that?” Of course, what you see has been there for a long time. You were too busy to notice it.

You also may have noticed that you’re having certain pains. Maybe they’ve also been there for a while. Perhaps the pain started because you haven’t been wearing supportive shoes. Or maybe you’ve been going barefoot around the house.

Toe pain can be frustrating. It seems so small and insignificant, but toe pain can be like a toothache. It’s always there and is stopping you from exercising and walking. Let’s discuss the top causes of toe pain that I see in my office.

  1. Ingrown Toenail

Ingrown toenail is a cause of toe pain treated by a Houston podiatristWhat is an Ingrown Toenail?

An ingrown toenail is a very common condition. It happens when your toenail curves and embeds into the surrounding skin. Sometimes the cause of an ingrown toenail is hereditary. You just inherited a toenail that is too wide for your nail bed. Other times it can be because of an injury or improper cutting of the toenail.

You’ll know if you have an ingrown toenail. The skin surrounding the nail becomes red and painful. There can be localized swelling around your nail. You may also notice bleeding or pus coming from the site.

How Do You Fix It?

Ingrown toenails are fixed with a simple procedure in the office. I numb your toe and remove the small section of the toenail that is embedding into the skin. If you have a history of ingrown toenails, I can even make the procedure permanent. This way you never have to deal with one again!

 

  1. Corns

Houston podiatrist recommends non-medicated corn pads to treat toe painWhat is a Corn?

A corn is a growth of thickened, dead skin. It occurs in response to pressure between your toe and your shoe. It is most commonly found on top of the joints of the toe. When your body forms a corn, it’s trying to help you. Your body recognizes that there is extra pressure. It forms the thick skin to protect you from that pressure. Unfortunately, they can end up being painful. They don’t look so nice either.

How Do You Fix It?

A corn can be treated in the office by paring down the dead skin. That usually eliminates the pain. That doesn’t stop it from coming back, however. If a corn is at the joint, the only way to permanently treat it is with a surgical procedure on the joint. Let me stress that it is usually not necessary. Some people choose to have it done to solve the problem once and for all.

I do want to mention that there are lots of ‘corn remover” products in the pharmacy. I don’t recommend them. I recently recorded a video telling you why I don’t think corn removers are good to use. It’s always fine to use non-medicated pads. These are helpful to slow the return of corns.

 

  1. Broken Toe

Broken toe causing toe pain treated by a Houston podiatristWhat is a Broken Toe?

Nobody plans to break a toe. It usually happen when you’re walking barefoot in your dark bedroom. A chair or dresser gets in your way and BAM! Your toe slams into it and you see stars.

When you look at your toe you’ll notice its swollen and bruised. You’ve probably heard that there’s nothing that you can do for a broken toe. That’s not the truth.

How Do You Fix It?

Like any foot injury, it’s important to get an x-ray to see if you broke your toe. This will help me make sure that the bones are in good position. If the broken bones are displaced, I may need to manipulate your toe to get them realigned. Surgery to fix a broken toe is rarely needed.

Once we know the broken toe is in good position, it can be treated. Like any broken bone, it takes about 6 weeks for it to heal. During that time, I recommend that you splint the toe to the one next to it. It’s called a buddy splint. I’ll show you the best way to do it in the office.

 

  1. Bunion

Bunion on foot causing toe pain treated by Houston podiatristWhat is a Bunion?

A bunion is a bump on the side of the great toe joint. It happens because of unstable foot mechanics which causes the bones in the foot to shift around. This is what causes the bump on the side of your foot. It also makes your big toe drift over towards your other toes.

There is often pain associated with a bunion. You might notice pain on the bump itself. Because the big toe joint ends up being misaligned, you can have pain in your big toe as well. If this happens, you’ll want to get it checked. It’s not worth having pain with every step you take.

How Do You Fix It?

If a bunion is caught early, it can be stopped. A specialized insole called a custom orthotic can be used. The orthotic manages the pressures that are causing the deformity. This will slow or stop the progression of the bunion. It will also help to stop the pain in the big toe. 

If a bunion is larger and more painful, you may need bunion surgery. The surgery realigns the bones and big toe joint. It is very successful and has become much easier to recover from. Your best bet is to come into the office at the first sign of a bunion. This way we can work together to see if we can avoid surgery altogether.

 

  1. Hammer Toe

Hammer toe causing toe pain treated by a Houston podiatristWhat is a Hammer Toe?

A hammer toe is a deformity of the smaller toes. It is when the toe buckles up due to a mechanical imbalance. The deformity can happen at either of the joints of the toe. It can even happen to both at the same time.

You will often feel toe pain with a hammer toe. The more prominent joints cause pressure against your shoe. This alone can cause pain. It also may cause a painful corn to form on top of the joint.

How Do You Fix It?

The treatment for a hammer toe depends on how flexible it is. If you’re able to pull the toe to straighten it out, I can usually recommend pads or supports to help with the pain. I may also recommend a specialized insole called a custom orthotic.

Sometimes you can’t manually straighten the toe because it is too stiff. In this case you might need a surgical procedure to correct the hammer toe. This is an outpatient procedure with a straightforward recovery. Of course, it’s always best to avoid surgery, which is why I recommend coming in at the first sign of a hammer toe.

 

In case you missed the theme for all of these issues, it is to get them checked sooner than later. Waiting only worsens the problem. And that makes the solution more difficult. So, if you’re experiencing toe pain of any sort, contact us for an immediate appointment. Lets take action to ensure you are not restricted by toe pain.

 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.
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