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intermitten burning pain on the side of the big toe

by Kristin
(South Shore, MA)

I have been experiencing a sharp burning pain in the left side of my right big toe for a couple of weeks now. It is right where the big toe meets the foot, right behind and to the side of the big knuckle. I have not had any known damage done to my foot, the foot looks normal, aside from a little redness in that area but no bumps, and it is not clicking.

The pain comes on unexpectedly whether I am walking or sitting down, although it sometimes happens when I bend my big toe downward. It feels like someone is taking a burning hot spike and putting it in the joint area. The pain intensifies and gets so severe it stops me in my tracks. It lasts only a few seconds but the pain lingers for quite a while afterwards.

I have always had very flat feet. So flat in fact, that I can feel the ground on my arch area. At work, which is at a mall with hard concrete floors and a thin layer of carpet, I wear a good shoe called "Klogs" from Work-N-Gear. They have a great cushion with a platform bottom for the hours of standing on my feet at a time. At home I usually walk barefoot, wear sneakers or flip flops. I do not wear heals.

I have not yet gone to the doctor about it, mostly because I was hoping it would go away, but also because I didn't want to spend the money on the co-pay if I didn't have to. I was doing a search trying to figure this out on my own when I found this site. I hope someone can give me some insight as to what might be going on with my pain. Any advice given would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.

Hi Kristin,
The first thing that comes to mind is a bursitis on the inside part of the bone just behind the big toe. That will cause the area to be a little bit red and swollen. You can have this without having a bunion.
The second thing that comes to mind is a nerve irritation that can occur in the same area.
I would think a bursitis would probably give you the kind of pain you are experiencing more that the nerve entrapment, but in either event if this problem has been going on for some time and is not resolving, then you should seek the advice of a podiatrist.
Marc Mitnick DPM

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May 30, 2018
Intense sudden onset
by: Steven

I suffer the similar symptoms. The pain is located on the outside of the right big toe between the joint and base of the nail. I suspect Sciatica. I slipped in oil and fell on concrete landing heavily on right buttock about 10 years ago. Have had intermittent pain in big toe ever since. Seems to sometimes be triggered by sitting posture. Extremely painful burning stabbing sensation. No swelling or inflammation noted.

Jan 16, 2018
Burning pain left side of big toe
by: Kumar S

I too experiencing the same burning pain since more than 3 weeks. It hurts brutally. I consulted Orthopedic adviced X-ray and uric acid test. My bad luck both came normal study. He adviced to apply pain relief gel and ibrufen tablet. But still the bloody burning pain irritating lot. Please someone tell me what is the diagnosis and treatment????????

Jan 11, 2018
by: Sonja

I am experiencing the same thing. What were the results from the Dr?

Oct 12, 2012
Just the same
by: Toy (Michigan)

Hey Kristen,
I've been suffering with this crazy intense burning pain located in the same area as well. It happens so suddenly that I'm bent over in pain. I've actually applied ice to my foot due to the pain being so severe at times. like you I didn't want to pay a co-pay if it was just nothing. However, I also suffer from sciatica and a slip disk in my back. Basically we have the same work conditions and at this point I just continue to deal my these issues. Until I got struck with this burning toe pain a few years back, my other pains seemed "normal". If possible let me know if you've sought treatment and/or what were the results.


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