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Little toe pain may be caused by a minor injury or it may be caused by a more serious fracture. Some of the most frequent causes of pain include a broken toe, a stubbed toe, an ingrown toenail, corns or bunions on the feet. Wearing high heeled shoes on a daily basis is the most common cause of little toe pain in women.
Bunions caused by arthritis or by wearing ill-fitting shoes may cause little toe pain. Bunions are characterized by a deformity of the bone or of joint tissue, particularly when joints have experienced a prolonged period of stress. Bunions, and the pain that accompanies them, frequently occur at the joint of either the big toe or that of the little toe.
Corns are calluses that form on the toes as the result of friction, usually from wearing ill-fitted shoes. Little toe pain is commonly attributed to corns, as the smallest toe is often exposed to friction by wearing shoes that are either too tight or that are too loose and cause the toe to rub against the inside of a shoe. Corns on the little toe heal on their own after the stress that caused them is eliminated.
Little toe pain may also be caused by injury, such as stubbing the toe or it may be caused by a break at the base of the fifth metatarsal bone, located just behind the little toe. This particular type of fracture, also known as a Jones fracture, is commonly confused with an ankle sprain. Little toe pain caused by a Jones fracture sometimes disappears by resting the foot, but at times a cast or surgery may be needed for the foot to completely heal.
Ingrown toenails are also known to cause little toe pain. Usually, these originate on the great toe, but can actually occur on any of the toes. They are the result of the nail’s edge growing into the skin of the toe. This inward growing causes extreme irritation, swelling and pain in the toe.
Women are particularly at risk for developing little toe pain. Such is often the cause of wearing shoes that are too tight, that significantly narrow in the toe area or that cause stress to the foot by holding it at a particular angle, such as is common in women who wear high heels. Podiatrists recommend that women only wear high heels when necessary, but allow the foot to rest by wearing athletic shoes and flat shoes at other times.