Causes of Toe Pain
Your toes are structures mainly formed by bones, ligaments, and other soft tissue that builds up the structure you see on the outside. The toes are very important to us because they help us to grip with our feet when we walk, and they also allow us to balance. If your toes have any type of pain, walking or doing anything else that requires you to use your feet can be uncomfortable. The causes of toe pain vary from person to person, so it’s hard to say precisely what is causing your problem without a complete physical exam and a few tests. However, these are the most common causes:
- Ingrown toenails: It is a nail that grows into the side of your toe, causing irritation and pain. Toenails grow in the same direction as the nail bed, making it easier to push through the skin. When this happens, your toenail bends or pushes back into the side of your toe, irritating the soft tissue that holds the nail in place. Ingrown toenails usually occur in your big toe because the nail there is harder and larger, but the problem can happen in any other toe. In some cases, ingrown toenails can become infected and create serious problems.
- Corns and calluses: These conditions are caused by repeated pressure on a particular area of your foot, such as walking barefoot on rough surfaces. Your feet tend to wear down over time and may develop areas of thickened skin that are prone to developing corns and calluses. If these areas are not cared for, they will eventually break down and may even cause serious infections.
- Sprains and fractures: These injuries are common and can be caused by falling on hard surfaces or walking through an area with uneven surfaces. The result is usually pain and swelling in the injured area. Fractures generally happen when something heavy falls directly on your toes. In both cases, the pain is acute and often very easy to trace to a specific moment or trauma.
- Gout: This is a common form of arthritis involving joint pain and inflammation. Gouty arthritis can occur in any joint, but it most commonly affects the big toe, knee, or ankle. The first sign of gout is a red, tender, swollen big toe. Other symptoms include fever, chills, and joint pain. Gout is caused by the buildup of uric acid in your body in the form of crystals when you have too much uric acid in your body. When excess uric acid is produced, or it is not correctly eliminated, it can build up in your joints and cause painful swelling. Gout is usually treated with drugs in combination with a diet that limits the amount of foods that contain purines.
- Bunions: Bunions are bony protrusions inside the big toe joint. They occur when the big toe bone protrudes from the joint and becomes inflamed. In some cases, the big toe can become enlarged or deformed.