Toe Pain Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Toe pain can affect your mobility and make doing everyday tasks strenuous. Left or right toe pain may coincide with difficulty walking or wearing many of the shoes in your closet.

When you first experience toe pain, you might feel tempted to use toe pain relief home remedies. Sometimes these remedies work. However, if your pain persists for more than a week or worsens instead of improving, consider seeing a toe pain doctor.

Mom and daughter jumping on a couch

What are common symptoms of toe pain?

Right or left toe pain does not manifest in the same way for everyone. Variations result from what the cause of the toe pain is, which toe hurts, and at what times and during which activities the pain arises. These are common symptoms of toe pain:

  • Stiffness and pain when moving the toe
  • Pain in the toe joints
  • Painful swelling or throbbing
  • Bruising
  • Abnormal bending
  • Tingling feeling that can become painful
  • Limited range in motion of the toe
Woman Sitting on Couch Evaluating Aching Heel Pain

What are some complications of toe pain?

Toe pain can often lead to additional complications. Breaking of the toe, bunions, and other similar injuries to the toe can cause irregular shape. Irregular shape can lead to discomfort while wearing shoes or pain when walking. Other symptoms can be the result of more serious issues. If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms, seek a podiatrist:

  • Sores on the toes or elsewhere on the feet that don’t heal well or at all
  • Red streaks around a lump on the toe or another sore area
  • Pain when placing pressure or weight on the toe

What causes toe pain?

When you visit a podiatrist, they will complete a healthy foot checkup and determine the cause of your toe pain. Strangely enough, some causes of toe pain may seem completely unrelated.


The shape of your foot and your gait can play a crucial role in whether you develop toe pain and other foot conditions. This is determined by your genetics.


If you spend a lot of time on your feet at work or while playing sports, you might put too much strain and pressure on your toes and other areas of the foot. Without proper rest and stretching of the foot, this can result in toe pain and injury.


Diabetes can lead to blisters and sores on the toes and other areas of the foot. If left untreated for too long, these blisters and sores may turn into ulcers. Other foot complications related to diabetes include calluses, fungal infections of the nails, athlete’s foot, and warts. Fungal infections can cause toe pain near the nail beds.


Arthritis can lead to complications with joints all around the body —your toes are no exception. Toe joints are easily susceptible to arthritis as your toes are used for every day weight bearing activities. One specific complication it can cause is hallux rigidus. This develops in the big toe when osteoarthritis has led to degeneration of the cartilage.


This is one of the most common causes of toe pain, but it only presents a problem when it flares up. Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis caused by a buildup of acid crystals in the joints.


You might not suspect that you can develop sprains in your toes, especially if you wear shoes on a regular basis. Even so, it can happen. Sprains can lead to turf toe, which results in painful swelling and an inability to move the affected toe.

Broken bones

The toe bones are as fragile as they are strong. You might not immediately notice a fracture or breakage of the toe, so it’s important to seek medical attention after a harsh impact to the toe where pain does not dissipate.

Nerve damage

A common cause of nerve damage is Morton’s neuroma. In these cases, your toes could feel numb, or you might experience a tingling sensation. A burning pain or a feeling as if you’re standing barefoot on pebbles is associated with nerve damage.


High heels and tight shoes crowd the toes together and cause the muscles to tighten and shorten. In time, straightening the toes becomes impossible. Tight shoes can also cause ingrown nails and shoes that are too loose can provoke improper gait leading to foot injury.

How can you prevent toe pain?

There is no foolproof way to prevent toe pain. Accidents happen and can quickly upend your plans. Even so, there are easy tips you can follow to reduce your risk of developing chronic toe pain:

  • Eat a healthy diet, as recommended by your primary care doctor
  • Exercise regularly, but keep health restrictions in mind
  • Stretch and rest your feet after activity
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable and fit well
  • Take scheduled breaks if you spend a lot of time working on your feet
  • Treat all foot injuries as serious until a podiatrist tells you otherwise

How can you treat toe pain?

How quickly you can achieve toe pain relief depends on the cause of injury. Treatment options vary with the source of the problem and may include: pain medications, dietary changes, exercises, stretches, and custom orthotics.

At Arizona Foot Doctors, we’re committed to helping you regain control of your life by reducing or eliminating left or right toe pain. We believe in treating the source of your pain with you and your family in mind. Our podiatrists approach injury with the most non-invasive treatments when possible and will work with you to find the right treatment plan. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

Scottsdale toe pain doctors

Toe pain can affect your mobility and sleep quality and make it hard to carry out your daily responsibilities. Don’t leave pain untreated—find relief with Arizona Foot Doctors.

Our toe pain doctors practice in Scottsdale, Arizona, just north of Shea and the 101. Book an appointment online or call us at (480) 661-7572 for same-day appointment information.

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