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Pinky Toe Pain

by Katy
(Rosamond Ca)

Two weeks ago I hit in between my fourth toe and my pinky toe on the left foot. During the impact I heard a very light popping noise, and experienced immediate swelling and pain. I tried ice for 20 minutes every hour as well as 4-200 mg of ibuprofen and the swelling has not gone down. When I step on the foot I experience a burning stabbing pain up into the ankle. I woke up today and I now have a burning feeling on the bottom side of my left foot from the pinky toe to the heel of the foot. Also I have swelling in the ball of my foot near the toes, as well as mild swelling on the top of the foot. Is it possible I broke my pinky toe and if so or even if not what should I do to relieve the pain and swelling and maybe help with support of the foot?


Hi Katy,

When the source of pain is secondary to trauma as it is in your case, anything can be wrong.

You may have broken either the fourth or fifth toe, there is even a chance you may have chipped the metatarsal bone which is the bone directly behind the small toes as you state you hit your foot in between the fourth and fifth toes.

The only way you are going to know if there is a broken bone of any kind is with an x-ray. Some people will tell you there is nothing you can do for a broken toe and nothing could be further from the truth. If indeed your toe (or metatarsal bone) is broken, it has to be treated just like a broken bone any where else on the body. If not properly treated, it may not heal correctly and you will end up with ongoing pain.

Even though I have no idea whether your toe is broken or not, your symptoms seems to be more consistent with nerve damage in between the toes. At the level where you hit your foot, there is a nerve that splits, sending a branch to the fourth toe and a branch to the fifth toe. This juncture may have been traumatized by your accident and now you are having nerve pain.

The reason I suggest that is because of the fact that your pain is traveling back into the foot and because the area is burning. These are both signs of nerve damage.

The pain travels back into your heel or ankle because it is following the path of the nerve.

Now, I am sitting on the other end of the internet, so I am only guessing as to what is going on by your narrative. It has now been over two weeks since your trauma. If you had a simple bruise of some sort, one would think that by now your symptoms would be subsiding and you would be feeling better. Apparently that is not the case.

So, my suggestion to you is to see a foot specialist in your area who can x-ray and examine your foot to determine the exact cause of your pain and then offer treatment.

Marc Mitnick DPM

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