There are many causes of toe pain. One of the most common causes is the presence of a corn. A corn is a type of toe callus that develops as a result of repetitive friction. Corns have a core that can exert pressure on nerves of the toe, leading to intense pain. Pain related to corns may be caused by toe pressure from ill-fitting shoes or socks that are too tight in the toe area. Typically, preventing pain from corns involves wearing properly fitting shoes and wearing small pads to absorb friction. Other common causes of toe pain include arthritis, gout and bunions.
One source of pain in the toes is hallux rigidus, a degenerative form of arthritis that affects the big toe. This type of arthritis may be caused by a history of sports injuries. Generally, this type of toe pain causes significant discomfort and may affect the ability to walk. Frequently, pain in other joints, such as the knee or hip, may be evident. Sometimes, lower back pain may be attributed to toe pain caused by hallux rigidus.
Another frequent cause of a painful toe is gout, also a form of arthritis. This arthritis is related to the formation of uric acid crystals that form on connective tissue or in synovial fluid. This fluid refers to the fluid responsible for cushioning joints. Uric acid crystals are very sharp and are responsible for the acute inflammatory process, which contributes to the pain of gout. Frequently, an attack of gout begins with severe and sudden pain in the big toe.
Sometimes, bunions, or hallux valgus, is the source of pain in the big toe. Typically, a bunion is described as a bump or protruding bone on the side of the foot or big toe. This occurs when certain bones in the front of the foot are misaligned, causing the bump. Symptoms of a bunion may include pain and inflammation of the toe, burning and numbness.
Generally, treatment options for a painful toe depend on the cause of the pain. Typically, a physician may recommend anti-inflammatory medications, as toe pain frequently involves inflammation. Anti-inflammatory medications not only reduce inflammation and swelling, but also help relieve pain. Usually, if the patient cannot tolerate anti-inflammatory medications, the physician may recommend prescription analgesics that contain codeine. It is important to seek evaluation and treatment of a painful toe because long-term mobility issues may occur if not properly treated.