Arthritis, including gout, can cause pain in the toes. Gout is an inflammatory condition in which crystals periodically deposit in joints, causing severe pain and swelling. The big toe is often affected by gout.
Treatment for gout includes:
- Medication such as colchicine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications, or prednisone
- Pain relievers
- Daily medication and diet restriction to prevent gout attacks
A bunion (hallux valgus) is a bony prominence along the edge of the foot, next to the base of the big toe. Bunions may occur in anyone, but are often caused by ill-fitting footwear in women. Hammer toes often occur with bunions.
Bunion treatment includes:
- Changing to more comfortable shoes; if this is unsuccessful in relieving foot pain, orthotics may be tried. If those are unsuccessful, surgery might be considered.
Hammer toe occurs when the near joint in the toe is bent, creating a hammer-like appearance. The most common cause is a muscle-tendon imbalance, which leads to bending of the toe. Wearing tight shoes often causes hammer toe.
Claw toe occurs when the joint at the end of a toe may become unable to straighten, causing the toe to point down or up. This is often the result of nerve damage from diseases like diabetes or alcoholism, which weakens the muscles in your foot. Irritation of the feet and other feet problems may develop, without special footwear to accommodate the claw toe.
Treatment of hammer toe and claw toe includes:
- Changing to better-fitting footwear; avoiding high heels and tight shoes
- Stretching exercises for toes and toe joints
- Shoe inserts
- Surgery may sometimes be necessary
Ingrown toenails occur when skin on one or both sides of a toenail grow over the nail. Ingrown toenails may be painful or lead to infections.
Treatment for ingrown toenail includes:
- Soak the foot in warm water four times a day.
- Once daily, wedge a piece of gauze between the nail and wet skin.
If these treatments don’t work, seek the care of a podiatrist or physician.
Turf toe refers to pain at the base of the big toe resulting from athletic activities. Turf toe is an overuse injury usually caused by strain from hyperextension of the big toe. Turf toe may also be a form of sesamoiditis or sesamoid fracture (see below).