Toe Pain - Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Toe Pain - Causes, Treatment and Prevention / symptoms

Pain in the toes - When walking becomes agony

We all know painful toes, and most of the time the cause is harmless: our shoes squeeze, especially on the big or small toes, and on long walks we use our toes heavily. Even before the rest of the foot hurts, we notice the pain in the toe area.


  • Pain in the toes - When walking becomes agony
  • Causes of toe pain
  • accidents
  • Painful toes through warts
  • Cause gout
  • risk factors
  • Treatment of toe pain
  • Prevention of pain on the toes
  • Toe pain from ingrown nail
  • Prevent ingrowing of toenails
  • Diagnosis and conservative therapy
  • Operation with ingrown toenail

Causes of toe pain

Toe pain usually has a harmless cause that we also know ourselves, namely too tight or badly cut shoes. Depending on how hard the shoe pushes, the toes hurt after a few hundred meters or after a long hike. The shoe can generally be too small, for example, if we wear shoe size 40, even though we have 42. Or he has the right size, but in the front area is no freedom for the toes.

Often too small shoes are the reason why it hurts after short stretches in the toes. (Image: cunaplus /

This may be due to the poor quality of the shoes, but also on our feet. Who has Senkspreizfüße, for the top Italian patent shoes are unsuitable.

A classic for toe and foot pain are women's shoes with high heels. They look good, but bend the foot at an angle that does not correspond to the natural position. The slope puts extreme strain on the toes - the sole-man becomes a toe-goer.

This pain is no joke - unlike shoes that are just too tight, stiletto heels can permanently deform the toes. Such a malposition, however, ensures that the pain becomes chronic.

The friction irritates the skin, the narrowness squeezes in particular the little toe and minces the skin. Blisters also hurt.

An ingrown toenail, cornea, arthritis and gout cause pain.


More serious than tight shoes are accidents, be it a bent foot during sports or a beam that falls on the big toe: bruises, bruises and sprains are the result, in the worst case break toe bones.

While a congested foot in a tight shoe relaxes quickly when we remove the oppressive jail, sprains and fractures can not heal until we protect the foot for extended periods of time.

Painful toes through warts

Warts on the toes cause pain, especially when they form at the junctions between the ball of the foot and toe. Then press while running automatically. Such a wart should treat those affected or get them removed by the doctor. Especially small warts can be effectively controlled by anti-warts agents, especially acids. A doctor can cut out the wart.

Warts around the toe can cause severe pain. (Image: AB Photography /

In the case of warts, plucking, scratching, pounding or rubbing must be taboo so that they do not spread to other parts of the body. The affected should also not walk barefoot, because the small skin growths are very contagious.

Cause gout

If her toes are constantly aching, without her shoes being too tight, you have not hit your toes or any other triggers are recognizable, gout could be the cause. In the joints then accumulates too much uric acid.

Gout is typical in the joint in the big toe. The joint inflates and swells, so pressure builds up on the inside of the shoe, which intensifies the pain.

risk factors

You have a special risk for aching toes if you suffer from arthritis, are severely overweight and have so much weight on your toes, you often jump and run, they are very old or very young, or they have a lot to stand.

Treatment of toe pain

If our shoes are too tight, we do not need a doctor, but other shoes. It is different when pain tortures us, without knowing the trigger and without noticing any external damage.

If there is no trigger for the pain in the toes, a doctor should be consulted. This can clear the cause and treat the foot accordingly. (Image: Lovrencg /

A doctor can x-ray the foot to see if a toe is broken. In the event of a fracture, sprain or bruise, the doctor bandages his toe or injects it. The toe should remain calm until the injury has healed.

You can cool the aching toe in any case. This promotes healing and relieves the symptoms.

If there is an infection, antibiotics help to reduce the inflammation.

Warts can be frozen or etched, then you can peel them off with the epidermis. Such tinctures are also available without a doctor's prescription. However, it is advisable to consult a doctor beforehand to avoid risks.

In case of gout, the specialist is required. For example, patients should follow a diet that reduces uric acid and also take appropriate medication. Early gout can be treated well.

Prevention of pain on the toes

Most problems can be avoided with good shoes. If the shoes do not push, have a comfortable sole and let the toes move, we prevent pain in this area. You can check new shoes by testing whether all toes can be moved up, down and sideways. If that is the case, probably no complaints will occur even after long hikes.

For sports that put a lot of strain on the toes, such as jogging, sprinting, foot or handball, but also for outdoor trekking, there are special shoes with ideal fit, air cushions in the soles and extra feeding. Without such special jogging, running or hiking shoes you should not operate the respective sport. Or vice versa: If you walk through the Scottish Highlands and put on some pointy pumps, you will certainly be toe-to-toe - if you dance the night through high heels, you can be glad if "only" your toes hurt.

To prevent toenails, e.g. When hiking or jogging, always look for perfectly fitting shoes that are specially equipped for the activity. (Image: YariK /

A good shoe not only leaves enough space for the heel and toes, it also absorbs strong shocks and thus protects the toe joints.

Toe pain from ingrown nail

Mostly the nail of the big toe grows. The nail presses itself into the sensitive nail bed, which ignites then. We often do this ourselves when we wear long-lasting shoes in which the nails can not grow normally or cut the nails incorrectly.

The infection often gets worse because the damaged tissue opens the door to bacteria. Wild meat also proliferates when the wound heals.

Additional problems arise when the patients cut the ingrown nail even shorter. To avoid state pain, they ensure that the nail edge pushes further and further into the tissue.

A self-treatment brings little here. In general, a doctor must remove the ingrown nail with surgery. The anesthetic injection hurts, as the physician usually injects it into the sensitive skin between the big toe and neighboring toe, but the newly formed nail is likely to grow normally.

In any case, after such an operation, patients should wear sandals without stockings to avoid putting pressure on the fabric. If the toe is purulent, it also requires antibiotics that kill off the responsible bacteria.

Prevent ingrowing of toenails

Ingrown toenails bend by cutting the toe nails regularly. The nails grow in particular because they are too long. The ingrown nails inflame and cause severe pain.

Often the toenails are also cut incorrectly. Incorrect means cutting too much down the edges. As a result, the nails grow in easily.

Often too much shortening of the nails causes them to grow in and subsequently hurt the toes. (Image: Dan Race /

Tight shoes press the skin against the nail, so the nail can grow in quickly. Strong sweaty feet also promote ingrowth because it softens the skin around the nail. So watch out for comfortable shoes and ventilate your feet regularly. More important than washing your feet is to walk barefoot or in sandals more often.

They should pay particular attention to such measures if they are prone to anatomically ingrown toenails. This always happens if you have a wider nail bed than the average.

Diagnosis and conservative therapy

The diagnosis is simple because those affected almost always know for themselves that an ingrown nail causes the pain.

As part of the treatment, the affected nail should first be "tapped". To do this, place padded plaster between nail and nail bed to give the toe more air between skin and nail. The pain will recede immediately as the pressure subsides.

A foot bath softens the skin, so it is better to apply ointments and patches afterwards. Very hot footbearers also promote blood circulation and soften the skin for ointments such as fucidine ointment.

Nail correction clips give a growth shape when the nail is too round at the sides. Such clips are made of plastic or wire. The patient uses them half a year or more and pulls the ingrown nail out of the nail bed with her. Without surgery, the nail grows new. The disadvantage of this method is that the process takes a long time.

Operation with ingrown toenail

Painful, but it is shorter in an operation. After the local anesthesia, the doctor removes the ingrown nails and wild meat. Then he puts a bandage around the toe. The patient must go to the follow-up periodically to see if the nail is growing normally and the inflammation disappears.

After the operation, the tissue is very sensitive. Those affected should prevent any pressure on the body and change the bandage every three days.

With late treatment, surgery is almost always the first choice. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Specialist supervision: Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch (doctor)