Common Causes of Toe Pain and How to Deal With It
Pain in the toe can be a result of several factors, including abnormalities or injuries to any of the structures in the toe. This includes the bones, nerves, soft tissues, blood vessels, and the skin. Since our feet are constantly at risk of injury by walking, running, general exercise, and other athletic activities, toe pain is unsurprisingly a particularly common problem. Some types of toe pain might be accompanied by a range of other symptoms such as being warm to touch, a burning sensation, a tingling sensation, or numbness in the toes.
Some of the most common causes of painful toes include bunions, cuts and scrapes, bruises, calluses, corns, blisters, and ingrown toenails. Toe pain can also be brought on by conditions such as gout, infections, and several types of arthritis.
Sore toes are commonly caused by repetitive exercise or wearing shoes that fit too tightly. The symptoms that you are experiencing may give you some insight into what is likely causing pain in your toe.
- Broken toe: Pain, swelling, hurts when walking, the toe is bruised or red
- Raynaud’s: Tingling, pain, and numbness when you are stressed or cold. The toe may change colour
- Ingrown toenail: Nail curling into the toe, pain and swelling around the nail
- Gout: Stiffness, hot, swollen, and red skin around the toe joint, sudden shooting pains
- Bunions: A hard, bony lump near the big toe
What Can I Do for Toe Pain Relief?
The good news is that most cases of toe pain can easily be treated at home and will usually go away on their own after a short period of time. If you suspect that the pain in your toe has been caused by exercise or activity, it is best to rest your feet and your toes for now to give them a chance to heal.
Much toe pain is caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes. Shoes that are too tight and do not give your toes any room to move can put additional pressure on the toe every time that you walk, which can lead to toe pain while walking and after you remove the shoes. It is best to wear a pair of shoes that have at least a quarter to half of an inch of space in between your longest toe and the edge of the shoe. When trying on shoes, it’s a good idea to wiggle your toes to see just how much space you have. Wearing high-heeled shoes will also put additional pressure and strain on your toes and the balls of your feet, so it’s best to avoid them as much as possible.
If your toe pain is caused by an ingrown toenail, you can soak your feet in warm water to help reduce the tenderness and swelling. Adding Epsom salts can help, while regular saltwater can help to prevent the growth of bacteria in the area. Gently massaging the affected area can also help to relieve swelling and pain. Protect your toe with a band-aid or other protective cover to avoid infection or catching the nail on your socks.
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can also be effective in reducing any type of toe pain. For a toe that is swollen and inflamed, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or aspirin can be very effective for their anti-inflammatory properties. You may also want to consider using a topical antibiotic cream to keep the area clean and prevent any infections.
Why Do I Get Foot or Toe Pain in the Morning?
Experiencing painful feet and toes first thing in the morning when you wake up is never a good start to the day. if your first step out of bed has been painful recently, there are many potential reasons why.
Plantar fasciitis is a common problem that causes painful feet while getting out of bed. It typically causes more pain in the heel area. However, your toes may also be affected. This is because the condition affects the plantar fascia, a tissue that connects your heel and toe bones.
Rheumatoid arthritis is also a common cause of painful, stiff feet and toes in the morning. If you find it difficult to walk on the soles of your feet when you wake up, this condition may be the reason. It can significantly affect the metatarsal bones, which could eventually cause your toes to shift.
Flat feet can also cause your feet and toes to be painful upon waking up. This condition happens when you have no or low arches in your feet. It can often be genetic and occurs from birth, but it can happen to anybody due to additional pressure and tension on the arches of the feet. While having flat feet might not be painful by itself, this condition can result in painful swelling of the bottom of your feet and heels due to the lack of support for the foot muscles and ligaments. A podiatrist can help with therapy, stretches, and orthotic inserts or footwear to help combat the effects of flat feet.
Bone spurs can be another possible answer for foot pain in the morning, although this will typically occur closer to the heel than the toes. Bone spurs form when bones grow abnormally, eventually resulting in tissues or nerves in the area being rubbed against, causing pain.
What Causes Toe Pain After Walking?
Most of the time, toe pain after walking is caused by ill-fitting shoes. If your shoes are too loose or too tight, they will not provide enough support to your toes and the rest of the metatarsal area. If you experience pain in the balls of your feet as well as your toes when you are walking, chances are that the shoes you are wearing are to blame.
To prevent toe pain during and after walking, it is essential to invest in a pair of high-quality, supportive shoes that fit your feet well. Since our feet do change with age, it is a wise idea to have your feet professionally measured at the store before buying your new pair of shoes. Many people do not have feet that are sized exactly the same. If having your feet measured reveals that there is a small difference of half a size or one size between them both, it may be a good idea to purchase two pairs of shoes in each size so that each shoe you wear will fit the respective foot perfectly.
Toe pain after walking can also be caused by the way that you walk. If you have an unusual gait, such as leaning forwards too far when you walk, you may be placing extra pressure on your toes. Speak to a professional who can help with therapies, exercises, and tools designed to help you fix your gait and relieve the pressure on the front of your feet while walking.
Finally, being just 5-10 pounds overweight can put a lot of pressure on every area of your feet, including your toes. If you are experiencing toe pain after walking and are obese or overweight, you may benefit from a healthier lifestyle plan to help you lose weight and reduce some of the excess pressure.
How to Prevent Toe Pain After Wearing Heels:
Wearing high heeled shoes puts a lot more strain and pressure on the front of your feet compared to wearing flat shoes or shoes with a small heel. The best way to prevent pain after wearing high heels is to avoid wearing them altogether. However, this might not always be possible, so it is a good idea to look for heels that are still acceptable for the occasion but have a shorter and more sensible heel.
You can also get relief from toe pain when wearing high heels by using a gel insert in your shoes. Metatarsal inserts are designed to deflect some of the pressure away from your toes and evenly spread it across the foot, reducing the pain you experience from wearing this type of shoe. As always, it’s best to avoid high-heeled shoes that are ill-fitting or cheaply made since this will only lead to more pain and discomfort. If you need to wear heels a lot, it’s worth investing in a well-made, supportive pair.
Does Toe Pain Relief Cream Work?
Depending on the reasons why you are experiencing pain in your toes, you may be able to find topical creams and lotions that can provide you with some relief. If your toe pain is the result of calluses or other dry skin problems, good moisturising cream can certainly provide relief and help you get rid of the irritating dry skin. On the other hand, if you are experiencing pain due to swelling and inflammation in the toes, consider using a cream with anti-inflammatory ingredients such as NSAIDs, capsicum, or mint. Massaging the cream into your toes can help to provide relief from tension and improve blood flow.
Painful toes are never nice to walk on. There are many reasons why your toes might be aching in the morning or after certain types of activity, but the good news is that they are typically easy to deal with.