When stretching out my big toe like by removing a shoe or ski boot I get intense sharp burning pain around the area where the big toe meets the foot. The pain is only on the medial side. On the one to ten pain scale this is an 8+. I sometimes also have pain in the same general area on the second and third toes. I have had gout in the past. It has been 100% resolved since I quit drinking alcohol five years ago. This is not gout pain. The area is not sensitive to the touch and the pain seems to emanate from underneath the skin, not deep in the toe joint.
The most predictable way to initiate this excruciating, sharp, burning, electric, pain is to stand on my toes. The pain caused by a toe stand is so intense it knocks me off my feet.
Some perhaps pertinent medical history:
I worked in the ski business for around 30 years. I was in ski boots anywhere from four to ten hours a day.
I had a ganglion cyst directly on what now feels like the epicenter of my toe pain. The cyst formed about fifteen years ago. It was aspirated and 'KY Jelly' viscous fluid was removed. The cyst has never returned.
I am a healthy 56 year old non diabetic male.
Hi Nicholas, Sounds like you might have degenerative changes (arthritis) in the big toe joint. Because it hurts on the medial side there is also the possibility of an inflamed bursal sac. I would suspect that since you are so active this pain will probably not go away on its own. If it bothers you enough, you should see a podiatrist. Marc Mitnick DPM
My son has had a sore big toe for 4 days now, it is red all around the toe and then at the side of the toe just before the nail it has a black bit of hard skin. I thought this might have been a bit of sock fluff that had gone in to it, but it is really hurting him. Do you have any answers.
Can i use Magnesium Sulphate Paste on his big toe. The chemist gave me it.
Hi Audrey, It sounds like he has a infected ingrown nail. Since it is painful and infected he needs to see a foot specialist in order to have the piece of nail that has broken into the flesh removed. Using the magnesium paste will not do the job. Aside from the pain factor, it is not in his best interest to have a prolonged infection as that can cause more severe problems. Marc Mitnick DPM
The big toe in my right foot is numb. I can't feel anything when I touch it although it looks and feels perfectly normal. I am a 17 year old, slim, female. This has been going on for 2 weeks now and I don't have any other symptoms. I'm not sure what kind of doctor to go to.
Hi, Probably nothing more than a local nerve irritation, but best to have it checked out. Start with a podiatrist. Marc Mitnick DPM
I had a bunionectomy (bunion cut down, toe bone broken to reallign toe) 10 weeks ago. I am noticing as I bend my toe down that the top joint (under the toe nail) has a lot of pain. This pain is on the right side of the joint. It is also swollen there as well. Also, I am noticing that my toe seems to migrate to the left when I flex the toe up. I thought the surgery would somewhat "straighten" the toe instead of traveling left as it had prior to the surgery.
Why might I still be having pain in that joint? (This is the only area of pain that I have at this point.)
Why is my toe migrating left when the tendon was cut to prevent that?
Any insight would be helpful.
Hi Lois, The good news is that it is only ten weeks since surgery. Bone remodeling can take upwards of a year to fully resolve. The pain near the nail might be due to any implanted hardware that was put in when the toe was "broken and surgically straightened" of course I am only guessing since I do not know exactly what kind of procedure you had done. Perhaps you just notice this pain more because you are not having any pain where the bump was removed. Thats actually a good thing. Do not be shy about asking your doctor about the pain; he created it, he should be able to explain it. The fact that the toe bends toward the second toe unfortunately in many cases cannot be avoided. Of course, I do not what your surgical expectations were prior to surgery, nor what your doctor discussed with you, but in my way of thinking, if the surgery alleviated your pain and will allow you to return to the level of activity that you anticipate, then the surgery was a success. Good luck. Marc Mitnick DPM
This is actually in reference to my husband's grandmother who is having severe foot pain and also has a black toe. It is the biggest toe, however, I am not sure as to which foot is causing all the trouble. She is 84 years old and started hemodialysis in October and she is not diabetic. I have worked in hemodialyis for the last 13 years so I have a little medical background. She lives in NY and we live in FL so I haven't physically seen her in awhile. According to my mother-in-law, she is in serious pain especially after dialysis. She's asked my opinion and I told her that the grandmother should see her vascular surgeon. My MIL told me that she did see that doctor and he ran a machine to her feet (which I am assuming is a doppler) and he told them her blood flow was fine. I am having a hard time understanding the reason for her toes and pain then if she has good blood flow. What other reasons could there be? This blue toe syndrome? Any information you could provide would be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you very much, Trasie Danielle
Hi Trasie, I have the same problem that you have; I cannot see your grandmother's foot, but the fact that she has been seen by a vascular specialist should be comforting to you because that is the specialist who would be best suited to treat the condition you describe. Certainly a black toe would be suggestive of gangrene, but obviously in this case it is not. There is the possibility that it may also be blue toe syndrome, she may be throwing small emboli. If you are really concerned your best bet would be to place a call to the doctors who are treating her, explain to them that you are the "medical" expert in the family and would like a better explanation of what is going on because your mother in law is not explaining it well. Marc Mitnick DPM
My 85 year old Aunt has severe hammertoes on both feet. She lives alone and in a rural community. Would she be a candidate for surgery at her age?
In general terms I do not look at age as a factor in elective foot surgery. Certainly hammertoe surgery would fall into that category. What I would look at is the overall health of the patient, is there adequate blood flow to the feet, could the patient withstand the rigors of surgery. Assuming she meets all that criteria the real question becomes, what will hammertoe surgery do for her? If she leads an active lifestyle, if she finds that getting around is difficult to outright painful due to her hammertoe deformity AND she has tried conservative shoes without relief, then she would be a candidate for surgery. If she simply does not like the looks of her feet because of the hammertoes I for one would talk her out of surgery. Marc Mitnick DPM
I have type 2 diabetes and take metformin twice a day. I also had back surgery last June. That is when I started having numbness in my left foot. (mainly big toe). During my work day I don't notice the pain. When I sit down or lie down it seems to burn and tingle. I have cut back on my exercising due to the back surgery. Thanks for taking the time to hear my pains. Mike
Hi Mike, My opinion would be your numbness if more the result of your back surgery than your diabetes, for a couple of reasons. 1. The numbness started right after your back surgery (cause and effect) 2. Diabetic neuropathy is usually present no matter what you are doing, sitting, standing, walking, etc. 3. It is rare in diabetic neuropathy for the numbness to be so isolated to one toe.
Speak with your surgeon to confirm this, and make priority #1 in your life to control your blood sugars. Nowadays, a blood sugar below 100 is normal.
I recently had a pain in the lateral side of my foot and this seems be recovering slowly and since I had my orthotics modified I now have another problem. My 3rd toe on the same foot is now throbbing and painful and feels bruised to touch. Could this be related to my earlier problem or due to orthotics? My big toe joint also felt achey also...but not sure if that's due to the orthotics also?
Hi Sarah, I cannot imagine an adjustment to the orthotics as being the source of your new pain, but of course anything is possible. Assuming your new pains are not too severe, give it a little time, take some anti-inflammatory medication (if you can tolerate it) and in 10 days or so if the pain is still present, see your doctor. Marc Mitnick DPM
one toe suddenly feels cold and is staying that way
I was trying to fall asleep and by big toe on my left foot felt cold. I thought I touched something wet on the bed or something, but it keeps feeling the same way no matter where I go, what I do. there is no signs of a sore or anything odd colored. I don't know what to make of this :(
Hi Mark, The 2 things that could cause a toe to become cold would be lack of circulation into the toe or a neurological problem. If this has been going on for longer than 24 hours you should see medical attention to find out the cause. Marc Mitnick DPM
Suddenly started on Monday of this week (so for 5 days now) on and off during the day I have this ODD feeling like someone is " applying PRESSURE to the TOP of my big toe." I do not see any bruising... I do not see and lumps or bumps or any black and blue marks. It is just a funny feeling... not really a THROBBING or ache... can't put my finger on it.... Thank goodness it's not on going... just out of the blue... have been wearing sandals all along (I live in Florida)... at times when I put my sneakers on to walk my dog (4 pound Yorkie) I can feel the rubbing inside sneaker. I may have bumped it... or even thinking about it my daughters dog ( big and heavy 50 ? lbs. Bassett Hound) may have stepped on it.... but why did it take days for it to start hurting? I am a 57 year old Female 5'4" 158 lbs., in very good health except for past 7 years in Menopause (hot flashes most annoying). I do not work out side of the house except for watching my 2.3 year old Grandson 2 days a week.
I just had a pedicure and asked if he saw anything peculiar... NO he said... I do have a bad case of fungus under all of my toe nails and have had this problem for close to 50 years now, ever since I was a little girl... mold in dirt where I lived... used-to-be a potato farm.
Thank you for any info you can share with me.
Hi Vita, If the pain is on top of the toe near the nail, it might be from the fungus, if it is further back, the first thing that comes to mind is tendonitis of the tendon that bends the big toe upward. Give it a few more days, if it does not improve, see a podiatrist. Marc Mitnick DPM
Whether I'm walking or sleeping, sometimes I will have my toes fold over each other and lock into an unnatural position with extreme pain to accompany it... If I touch it, it gets worse.... It stays like that for a while and then as long as I don't mess with it at all I'll be ok but if I try to stretch it, it goes right back into that position...... I was thinking it might be a charlie horse or something because if I don't curl my legs when I sleep I atomatically get a charlie horse... not really sure though
Hi Dana, Sounds like a muscle spasm to me. Try some of the suggestions I give on my "night cramps" page. Marc Mitnick DPM
My son says his toe is bothering him, nothing appears wrong with it but he finally fell asleep but even while he's sleeping is foot keeps convulsing, like its bothering him in his sleep, what could this mean?
Hi Laurie, He may just be having a muscle spasm and as quickly as it came on, it could disappear. If it does persist you should take him to see a podiatrist. Marc Mitnick DPM
The pain is at the tip of the toe when it comes. It almost feels like I am getting stung by a bee but worse. I have had 2 low back surgeries from herniated disc. And I have cervical spine cord pressure with extreme degeneration. I am 52/years old. The toe pain last for about 15sec. but seems like forever. I am a retired chiropractor. What do you think. Any connection to the spine . Lumbars or cervicals. The pain is only the right foot and that is the same side I had the surgery on 10 years ago. Thanks
Hi Fred, May I assume there is no abnormality at the end of the toe like a corn? Does this only occur in shoes or can it occur barefoot as well? If it occurs only in shoes I would look for the cause to be local, if it occurs in or out of shoes I would think radiculopathy. Marc Mitnick DPM
Pain and swelling between my 2nd and 3rd toes on right foot
(American in Latvia)
I've noticed that the second toes on both my feet are starting to lean towards the big toes. When I wear sandals you can see a wider spread between the 2nd and 3rd toes of both feet. I'm 45 and a teacher so I stand a lot. I've always had assorted foot pain and take pride in my sensible shoes. I have recently felt increasing pain, and on bad days swelling, on the ball of my foot in the joints between my 2nd and 3rd toes. I was on vacation last week and doing extensive walking when I stepped on a bump in the road and heard a cracking maybe popping sound in the area between the 2nd and 3rd toe, immediately followed my numbness and swelling. Taking an over-the-counter anti-inflamatory and staying off it as much as possible has helped. But it's been a week and there's still numbness and slight swelling in that area. Mentally it feels like it hurts on the top part of my foot. When I start pressing with my fingers to "see" where the pain is it's directly behind the second toe on the ball of my foot where the toe connects to the foot. Any advice?? Thank you for any insight you can provide.
Hi Sara, When you stepped on that bump in the road, at the very worst you fractured your metatarsal bone, at the very least you further aggravated the problem you were already having which I see as capsulitis. Rest and anti-inflammatory medication will certainly help, but if you are a teacher and stand a lot you may need an insert in your shoe to protect the area. I think the spreading of the toes that you originally mentioned is also related to the capsulitis which is a result of the swelling and inflammation that occurs in that area. If you are unable to control the pain on your own you will have to see a doctor who specializes in the care of the foot, this would include an x-ray to rule out fracture. Marc Mitnick DPM
I'm a healthy 47 year old female. I do have a bunion on my left foot, but the problem I'm trying to diagnose deals with my toes. Recently I'm experiencing pain coming from the bottom of my toes. Mainly the 2nd and 3rd on each foot. The "pads" feel swollen, tender and radiate a tingling pain all of the time. At night I have sharp pains...enough to wake me up...although sometimes the pain comes from my bunion foot touching the sheets.
I wear orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist and I've long ago banished my pizza-style heels. I usually just wear athletic shoes to work-out and wide shoes for other times. I haven't been able to find any information on this particular problem and I'm confused as to who I would need to see about this...an orthopedic surgeon or the podiatrist, who hasn't really helped much.
Any help you could offer would be appreciated.
Sounds like a neuroma to me; almost a classic description of the pain. The next possibility would be a capsulitis, but I would lean heavily towards the neuroma. Orthotics are about my last choice for treating neuromas, I use them when the patient cannot or will not accept any other kind of invasive treatments. I find denatured alcohol injections work very well for neuromas. Since I started giving them about four years ago, I think I have only had to surgically remove 2-3 in that time span. I find most orthopedists are not good at differentiating the different causes of forefoot pain; my suggestion would be to find another podiatrist. Good luck. Marc Mitnick DPM
Yesterday I walked roughly a mile or more, in comfortable shoes and was doing good, but as I neared the end, all of a sudden I got this severe burning in 3 of my toes on my left foot. It hurt so bad, I felt like I wanted to rip them off. After about 5 minutes the pain subsided, but a day later they feel numb. I've never had that before. I'm 52.
Hi, See my page on Mortons neuroma. Take the necessary precautions to not allow this to get worse; it can be very painful. Marc Mitnick DPM
I am experiencing a burning sensation in my big toe joint adjoining the ball of my foot. It is most pronounced when we do lunges at the gym, with my right foot extended behind me while balancing on my toes. Is it gout? Arthritis?
Hi Maureen, Does not sound like gout but it could possibly be arthritis. More than likely it is a soft tissue irritation on the bottom of your foot that seems to be exacerbated when you hyperextend your big toe. The 2 areas I would look into would be turf toe and sesamoiditis. Adding an orthotic to your sneakers may go along way to reducing the burning. Marc Mitnick DPM
I am experiencing pain in my toe next to my little toe when walking. It feels like a nerve similar to a toothache. I can not make it hurt by rubbing or pulling on my toe, only when I walk. It doesn't hurt when I'm sitting or lying down. It hurts worse when I walk barefooted in the house. Walking at a fast pace causes some very sharp pains expecially if I'm walking on a sloped surface or on gravel. It feels better with socks and shoes. I usually wear an Easy Spirit casual shoe to work. It's been going on for about 3 to 4 weeks. What could be my problem?
Hi, It may very well be a nerve irritation. As you walk and the toe moves up and down, the nerve leading into the toe is stretched and then the toe hurts. That is probably why it does not hurt when you are a rest. A second possibility would be an arthritic flareup in the toe or a bursitis, but in these cases the toe would either be somewhat swollen or red compared to your other toes. In either case a visit to a podiatrist would be warranted. Marc Mitnick DPM
I fell on the stairs and badly bruised my foot. My toes and the top of my foot are very bruised and my foot is slightly swollen. My big toe and the next two toes have no feeling in them and I cannot move them. I did go to the hospital when it happened. This felling started the day after the injury. Should I have it rechecked or is this just part of the healing?
Hi Sue, Assuming there was no fracture, I would recommend taking some anti-inflammatory medication (assuming you can tolerate it) for a few days. This should relieve the symptoms. If there is no demonstrable improvement after 3-4 days, I would agree the foot should be rechecked. Marc Mitnick DPM
my daughter foot was stepped on in a soccer tournament and her smallest toe is swollen and black and blue on the outside of the foot and then the 2 toes next to it are bruised with a little black and blue in between them. She states it hurts to walk on that foot and I'm just curious if I should get some exrays.
Lisa, Yes get an x-ray, even broken small toes have to be treated. Marc Mitnick DPM
I recently (two weeks ago) have completed a 100km charity walk in 39 hours and have since had some numbness in the ends of my toes. Most seem better but the middle toe on each foot is still persisting. In getting fitted for shoes for the walk I was told I have "rolling in " feet and have little arch so was sold shoes and separate "orthotic" insoles which gave arch support. I bought two diferent brands of shoes and alternated the wearing of them during the walk.
Hi Marg, I see this problem quite a lot. Apparently as a result of the long walk you have irritated the nerves going into the toes, mild neuroma if you will. (there could be other sources of the numbness but this is the most common). If the numbness is going away chances are it will continue to improve. If you want to move it along, you might consider some anti-inflammatory medication (if you can tolerate it) for 7-10 days. Marc Mitnick DPM
my toe on my right foot my big toe in the right hand corner turned black and blue under the nail i thought i hit it but i didnt i would have remembered that and now it turned a mix of white and the black and blue and it is red around the toe and i have really bad pain shooting through my toe especially at night time and im also noticing my big toe on my left foot is starting to do the same with the black and blue first what could be causing that i recently brought some fungus medicine that you brush on the nail and it seems to be stopping my other toe from getting like my bad toe
Hi Jeannine, You do not have to have a history of trauma for nail fungus to occur. Sometimes the everyday "micro trauma" of your toe hitting the end of your shoes can bring this about. Since it is only a small portion of nail that is involved you should consider seeing a foot doctor and having the diseased nail cut away (it should not hurt to have this done) and then continue with topical medication. I suggest this because you do not want to see this condition worsen. Marc Mitnick DPM
Hi...I've written before and have another question. It is now 3 months since my bunionectomy. The bunion area no longer hurts and is doing pretty well. I do, however, seem to have random sharp and shooting pain from the top joint of the big toe through and under the nail to the top of the toe. It is random yet quite painful...enough for me to catch my breath and stop dead in my tracks. What could be causing this?? I've asked my doctor but she says she doesn't know. I want to make sure nothing else is wrong with my toe after the bunion surgery.
Hi Lois, I refer to them as "zingers", almost like hitting your funny bone. Most of my patients will relate the same symptoms; it is just part of the healing process, as long as you notice, over time, they become less intense and further apart in occurrence. If for some reason they become more frequent and more painful then it would have to be investigated. Do not be surprised if they last upwards of a year, gradually fading away. Marc Mitnick DPM
It started with a small looking cut at the bottom of my pinky toe. Than the cut spread bigger. It look as though someone tried to cut my toe off. Why is my toe spliting like this?
Hi, This is actually quite common. This is usually caused either by very dry skin or perhaps athletes foot. In most people the "cut" hurts, but you also have to worry about the cut becoming infected. I would recommend you see a podiatrist who can determine the cause and then give you appropriate treatment. Marc Mitnick DPM
Localized pain at the bottom of big toe at the crease
The pain is at the bottom of the big toe right where the crease is. It is swollen/red and sore to the touch. You can feel a small bump that is very painful on the outside of the crease not towards the other toes but the outside. It appears to be where the arrow for turf toe indicates but is above the sesamoid bones or ball of foot. If you pull the big toe down towards the heel is is right where the crease is. It is not painful to bend the toe in any direction. Just to the touch or weight bearing. This happened once before about a yr. ago but went away after about a week. This happened about 5 days ago after walking through Seattle with unsupported sandals. Although massage is painful, will this help? Is there anything I can do to help speed the healing, icing, heat? What is this condition?
Hi Cynthia, Many times, located at the crease of the toe, people can have an extra bone. It is actually cartilage but lets not split hairs. You will feel a lump, sometimes the lump will be moveable. I think you are right in your assessment that unsupported sandals and doing a lot of walking exacerbated this. You can try massage. I think wearing cushioned shoes like sneakers and taking anti-inflammatory medication (if you can tolerate it) should go a long way to improving the problem. Sometimes a cortisone shot can be very helpful. Give it about 7-10 days, if it does not improve, see a podiatrist. (BTW, my wife and I love Oahu) Marc Mitnick DPM
BOTH SMALL TOES ON EACH FOOT HAVE TURNED OVER SO THAT THE NAIL AND FRONT OF THE TOE IS FACING OUTWARDS AWAY FROM ITS CORRECT POSITION. I CAN TURN THE TOE BACK TO THE CORRECT POSITION BUT IT WILL NOT STAY SO BOTH TOES ARE MORE OR LESS LAYING ON THEIR SIDES WHY AND WHAT CAN I DO TO CORRECT THIS?
Hi Ann, I cannot tell you why your little toes have moved in that direction but I can tell you it is a common occurrence. More than likely it is a combination of the way you walk and your inherited foot structure plus the type of shoes that you generally wear. What you need to be aware of is the potential problems this structural change can create. Since your fifth toes no longer line up "properly" you run the risk of excessive pressure on these toes, particularly with very dressy shoes that may lead to corns, possible bursitis, and excessive pressure between the fourth and fifth toes in closed shoes. All of these conditions will lead to pain. Be sensible in your shoe selection. In an ideal world you should be wearing low heeled shoes with a wide toe box, yes, a laced shoe. If pain eventually does occur many times it can be treated fairly simply by a podiatrist, in some cases it may require surgery to straighten the toe. Marc Mitnick DPM
The top of my big toe on the right foot has been numb for a couple of weeks. I have poor circulation in my legs but work out all the time which usually helps. Also I stand on my feet all day at work. It doesn't hurt or bother me too much except for the fact that I am aware of it. What could be causing this and should I be concerned?
Hi, I would be concerned about numbness in the big toe in an individual with poor circulation. If you have poor circulation in your legs, it means you have poor circulation into your feet. I would suggest you see a vascular specialist to rule out lack of circulation as the cause for your numbness. Marc Mitnick DPM
The bump is yellowish in color and about the size of a pea. It protrudes out of the base of my big toe on the bottom side of my foot. It is making it somewhat painful to walk long distances.
Hi Hailey, I am just taking a guess here, but I see patients with similar symptoms in that area and the first thing that comes to mind is a skin cyst. You should see a doctor as the condition is readily treatable. Marc Mitnick DPM
Hi I have a lump the size of a large pea under the skin on my second toe, at the base before the toe joins the foot. It isn't painful to touch but has given me sensory changes, odd bits of cramping, pins and needles and sometimes numb, depends on what shoes I am wearing. Flatter more supported shoes I don't feel a thing, but anything with a heal or wedge bother it. I went for an X-ray and they couldn't diagnose it, so was sent for an MRI scan and I am awaiting the results. Thanks
Hi Jill, The most lump I see under the lesser toes is usually a ganglion or synovial cyst. If the MRI confirms this then your doctor might consider trying to drain it, or injecting it with cortisone in an effort to reduce the inflammation. Sometime we surgically remove them, but keep in mind they do have a high recurrence rate. Marc Mitnick DPM
I woke up one morning and it hurt to push off of my big toe when i walked. I thought that i had a small cut so i washed the bottom of my toe and put a bandage on it to protect it. Two days later the pain was worse and there was a white bump on the bottom of my toe. I thought it was a corn so i went to the store and got a OTC corn remover. It is starting to hurt much worse to the point I am walking with out stepping on it (walking on the outside of my foot). Two days later after using the corn remover it has gotten bigger and another spot has grown right beside it. I am not sure what to do?
Hi JRK, Well, whatever it is, it now spreading. Without having the luxury of being able to look at it, my first guess would be a wart as they can hurt and they can spread. You should seek medical attention for two obvious reasons, it hurts and it is spreading. If it is truly a wart, they may continue to spread and the more you have, the more painful and more difficult they are to treat. Marc Mitnick DPM