Toe Pain: Causes, Treatment, and Relief

Toe pain is any uncomfortable sensation in the toes. It may be a little irritating or so debilitating that you cannot put any kind of pressure on your foot or toe. Some common causes of toe pain include arthritis, bunions, calluses, and nail conditions.Toe pain can come on suddenly and severely, or it may develop gradually over time. It may last briefly or be constant. Symptoms can include prickling, burning, or pins-and-needles sensations.

If you are experiencing persistent toe pain or pain with swelling, redness, and warmth, seek prompt medical care.

This article explores some common causes of toe pain, as well as at-home remedies and treatments for toe pain relief. It also describes some symptoms that may occur with toe pain, including possible life threatening symptoms.

What causes toe pain?

view of person's feet
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Some common causes of toe pain, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association and the National Library of Medicine, include calluses, arthritis, and bunions.

However, infections and nerve conditions can also affect the toes. In particular, sores on your toes that do not heal properly may indicate poor blood circulation due to peripheral artery disease, which is a life threatening condition.

Below is a summary of some possible causes of toe pain that occurs when walking, big toe pain, middle toe pain, and more.

Causes of toe pain when walking

Some potential causes of toe pain when walking include:


  • broken, sprained, or dislocated toes
  • an ingrown toenail, especially with infection or when it rubs against a tight shoe
  • corns and calluses
  • hammertoe, which is a condition wherein your toe gets stuck in a bent-down position
  • arthritis, which can make toe joints sore, swollen, and stiff
  • tendinitis
  • neuroma, which is a nerve tissue growth that can cause pain between your toes when walking
  • nerve impingement or compression
  • neuropathy

Causes of big toe pain

Certain toe conditions primarily affect the big toe. Some common causes of big toe joint pain include:

  • gout, which is a type of inflammatory arthritis
  • bunions, which are bony growths on the outside of your big toe joint
  • hallux rigidus, which is a type of arthritis at the base of your big toe
  • turf toe, which is an injury that can occur with the overextension of the big toe joint

Learn more about the common causes of pain in the big toe here.

Causes of middle toe pain

Some painful conditions occur more often in your middle toes than in your big toe or pinky toe. These include:

  • capsulitis, which refers to inflammation of the connective tissues where the toe joint meets the ball of the foot
  • plantar plate tear, which is the rupture of the thick, fibrous tissue that extends across the ball of the foot, frequently involving the second toe
  • Morton’s neuroma, which is a nerve tumor that compresses the nerves between the third and fourth toes
  • Morton’s toe, which is the extension of the second toe past the big toe, which can lead to painful pressure and calluses

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