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Pain Management Health Center

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Foot Pain

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Toe Pain

Gout, which is a form of arthritis, can causes pain in the toes. Crystals collect in toe joints, causing severe pain and swelling. The big toe is often affected.

To treat it:

  • Rest the foot.
  • Ice the area.
  • Take medication such as colchicine, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or prednisone
  • Avoid foods that can make gout worse.

A bunion is a bony bulge along the edge of the foot, next to the base of the big toe. It's associated with misalignment of the first toe joint. Anyone can get them, especially if they wear ill-fitting or uncomfortable shoes. It often shows up as people age. People with bunions often also have hammertoes as well. Try changing to more comfortable shoes or wearing shoe inserts. If you’re still in pain, your doctor may suggest surgery.

A hammertoe is when your second, third, or fourth toe bends at the middle joint, creating a hammer-like appearance. It can come from a muscle imbalance, but it can also be brought on by wearing ill-fitting shoes.

Your doctor will likely recommend you wear shoes with a wide, deep toe bed. She may also give you exercises to stretch your toe muscles. If you still have problems, you can talk to your doctor about surgery.

Claw toe is when your toe points down or up and is unable to straighten. It’s often the result of nerve damage from diseases like diabetes or alcoholism, which weakens the muscles in your foot. Without special footwear to accommodate the claw toe, you may develop irritation and calluses.

To treat it:

  • Change to better-fitting footwear. Avoid high heels and tight shoes.
  • Do stretches for your toes and toe joints.
  • Try shoe inserts.
  • Ask your doctor about surgery.

An ingrown toenail is when skin on one or both sides of a toenail grow over the nail. It can be painful and may lead to infections.

To treat it:

  • 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, see a doctor.

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