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The response to the question below was authored by Marc Mitnick DPM

Second toe swollen/trouble walking

by BT

second toe is swollen (right foot)

second toe is swollen (right foot)

second toe is swollen (right foot)
comparison of normal toe/foot (left foot)

My second toe (right foot) began hurting a bit on Sunday. After a decent amount of walking and changing subways (I live in NYC and take public transportation and walk to get around) on Sunday, I started limping. I woke up Monday and it felt okay until I started walking to work and it began hurting again (it felt tight and sore). By the end of the workday (I work a desk job, so I am not on my feet often) and headed home, I could barely put weight on my right foot. The toe is swollen and not really red. The pain is in the base of the toe and only really hurts if I press on it or put my weight on my foot to walk normally. It also feels like a marble on the bottom of my foot at the base of this toe. Barefoot or ballet flats are impossible. I bought a medical shoe at the drug store and have taped my second and third toe together for the last two days. The pain and swelling are a bit less but I still can't fully bear down on the foot or walk normally. Otherwise, no other toes hurt or other parts of my foot. I can't tell if it would be gout (but my first toe is okay), capsulitis or a fracture (I do have a bunion on this foot and have had issues with plantar fasciitis). Also, outside of work, I am wearing Birkentocks or other supportive sandals or shoes and I am a 39-year-old female. Thanks!


Hi Brooke,

You have mentioned all the possibilities of what might be causing your pain and swelling in the second
toe. The only other thing I can think of is an arthritic flare up at the level where the toe attaches into the metatarsal bone, which would be the base of the toe.

I am not leaning toward gout as that is a rare occurrence in pre-menopausal women, but certainly capsulitis or even a stress fracture are a possibility.

Without actually examining you and no x-rays to refer to, I can only guess what might be wrong with your toe.

My first suggestion would be to go see a local podiatrist and get an accurate diagnosis.

Short of that, you could try wearing the surgical shoe constantly for a few days to allow the inflammation to calm down. This means no cheating, no walking barefoot or wearing other types of shoes. You could also supplement this with anti-inflammatory medication on a regular basis for a week, this is assuming you can tolerate that type of medication.

You might get better, but the downside is that if you do not improve, you have wasted a week of your life walking around in a rigid shoe. Since you do a lot of walking on a daily basis, the shoe may actually begin to bother you; in most cases it will end up aggravating your back.

If you want me to "guess", since this problem began after doing a lot of walking, I would be leaning towards capsulitis. My next best guess would be a possible stress fracture, but usually they occur a bit further back in the metatarsal and generally do not cause the toe to swell.

Like I said, seeing a local doctor would probably be the smart move on your part.

Marc Mitnick DPM

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