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

String tied around toes

by Ernie
(Granger, Indiana)

capsulitis of second and third toes

capsulitis of second and third toes

About six or seven years ago I started to get the feeling as if a string were tied around the 2nd and 3rd toes of the left foot. It is not particularly painful, just irritating. It is not turning color, does not feel numb but it does feel somewhat different than the other toes although I would be hard pressed to describe the feeling. I spent a lot of time on my feet at work and drove a manual shift car for many years (clutch), so I thought that may have had something to do with it. After a year or two of it not going away I saw a podiatrist and he said something about a ligament that holds the toes together laterally, and gave me an insert to put in my shoe (went under the ball of the foot). After wearing it for six months with no improvement I returned to see him and he gave me a slightly different insert which again did not seem to help. Recently I noticed the same feeling in the same area of the RIGHT foot. I read about capsulitis and neuroma but they do not seem to be the same thing. I see a lot of hits on the internet of people with "string tied around toes" syndrome but no diagnosis or solutions. Any ideas?


Hi Ernie,

I have been a podiatrist for a very long period of time and cannot recall ever having someone describe their toes as if there were a string tied around them, but that's just me.

Based on your description it sounds like this sensation is occurring at the base of each toe. I say that because the podiatrist you saw gave you two different inserts, one at least was supposed to raise the ball of your foot. I therefore, assume the insert had a metatarsal pad built into it which would be used for capsulitis or possibly a neuroma.

Since the podiatrist mentioned a ligament he probably had a working diagnosis of capsulitis as that is an inflammation of the ligament that actually holds the toe bone to the metatarsal bone behind it. There really is not a ligament that holds each toe together with the adjacent toe. If you look at the enclosed diagram the red arrows are pointing to the capsular ligament of the second and third toes. If they are both inflamed then you could have the sensation that you describe, assuming this string is occurring at the base of your toes.

Assuming your circulation is fine going into your toes and I assume it has been checked, then the two most probable causes of your sensation would be either capsulitis or neuroma.

these instances both conditions cause inflammation at the base of the toes. I would assume that might be what is giving you the sensation of a string tied around your toes. Many people also describe the sensation as if their sock is rolled up underneath their foot.

Certainly driving a clutch could set this off on your left foot. The reason I know this is that I had a clutch on my last car and started suffering from capsulitis. Once I got rid of the car, the capsulitis went away.

Now I realize this is more of an annoyance than a crippling problem but obviously you are interested in getting rid of the pain.

Usually an insert with a metatarsal pad can be helpful assuming the metatarsal pad is properly placed. You did not mention if these inserts were custom made or just an insert that was pulled off the "rack".

At this juncture you might want to consider a cortisone injection or even a round of anti-inflammatory medication (if you can tolerate such medication) for perhaps two to three weeks in an effort to reduce the inflammation.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that a lesser possibility might be an actual growth of some sort in the area of discomfort. A growth like a ganglion cyst or bursitis that could be possibly growing in the area may also give you the same sensation.

The fact that you are starting to have this same type of problem on the right foot would lead me to believe there probably is not a growth but if treatment fails to alleviate the problem on your left foot then an MRI might be indicated.

Additionally, since you are beginning to experience the same problem on the right foot, the next thing I would look at are the shoes that you wear, as that is usually the common denominator when there is bilateral foot pain of a similar nature.

Two types of shoes that can aggravate capsulitis or even neuroma would be very flexible shoes like flip flops, boat shoes and any shoe for that matter that has a lot of "bend" in the forefoot. In other words, a more rigid shoe like a well made dress shoe or a good athletic walking shoe would probably be more helpful.

Activities such as ladder climbing, stooping down as in gardening or carpentry work, a lot of stair climbing without shoes can also set off capsulitis.

My suggestion would be to first think about the shoes you wear, the activities you perform and make any changes, if possible, then go back to your podiatrist and inquire about oral anti-inflammatory medication or perhaps a cortisone injection.

Marc Mitnick DPM

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Feb 11, 2020
String around left big toe
by: Christina

Went online looking for answers found this page. Been having it for awhile it freaks me out like string around my big left toe only. It's enough to wake me up. I feel like I just want to cut the string off. At the bottom of my left toe. Nice to know I'm not alone in this but what is it?

Without the luxury of being able to examine you, the first place I would investigate would be an issue with the lower back. As long as the toe does not change colors compared to the adjacent toes, it is probably nothing serious, but having a foot specialist examine you might not be a bad idea.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Dec 18, 2019
String tied around the big toe feeling.
by: Mel

I also have the string tied around the toe feeling and have had it for years but mine is in my big toes. I don't know how you can be a foot doctor and never heard of this as I have talked to several people who also have the same problem. I spent days looking for a hair or string that I thought had to be there. I'm not blind, there is nothing there. I have been doing all kind of foot and the exercises and nothing works.

Sorry, but no patient has ever come into my office complaining of having a string tied around their toe. Having said that, based on the rest of the history presented by this poster, I am able to come up with a working diagnosis. Keep in mind this is all based on information the poster has provided to me, without the luxury of me being able to actually examine them and take a good history.

If your sensation is coming from both big toes, the common denominator there might be your lower back. Not sure how "foot exercises" will ever help since I think most people that complain about string wrapped around toes probably have neurological origins.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Dec 16, 2019
string around toes
by: Ginny

I am so glad to find out I am not crazy and others have same or similar problem. I had my left foot reconstructed after a tendon tear. This was 10 years ago. During therapy I was told they were suppose to massage my foot to break up the scar tissue. The therapists would not do this. I have had this problem ever since. I chocked it up to nerve damage caused by the scar tissue. I had hoped it would go away with time, but it hasn't. When I wear shoes and am on my feet I do not notice this, but at night and when I am sitting and at rest it bothers me a lot. It is not painful but terribly annoying. I am going to talk to my orthopedic about it but wanted to research it to see if it was a unique problem but see that it isn't.

Sep 21, 2019
Toe pain
by: Marlene

Thank you for this informative site.
After 9 months of being misdiagnosed, I was treated for plantar plate tears in both feet. I spent the summer off of my feet and taping my second toes. Finally in late August I was allowed to walk and not wear walking boots. I was told to quit taping a couple weeks later. I walk terribly, very stiff legged. I am in PT. Over the 2 weeks since i quit taping, started PT, and began teaching i have developed increasing pain along the base of my toes. It feels like something is wrapped around them and gets worse as day goes on. My fourth toe is now moving to the outside and curling; more pronounced on left foot than right. My doctor doesn't know why these things are happening and told me just to work through it. He said there are not more tears. I am concerned about the deformity that has taken place in just two weeks and the pain interferes with life. Any ideas about what is going on ?

Aug 31, 2019
string around toe
by: nick

im not sure but im going to guess here and say that you have some weak/tight muscles in your hips and your legs.. try getting massages that focus on these areas and yoga, and other types of exercises that involve strengthening you hips, butt, quads, hams, and lower leg.

As a massage therapist this is my best guess. most problems are a result of some sort of weakness and or loss of mobility.

this will not be a quick fix, probably a few months of exercise until you see any changes

you may sit a lot

you may cross your legs, could be a variety of different ways

you may supinate your foot a lot

in most cases exercise is the answer, not just walking or some casual thing...

go on youtube and look up videos on strengthening those muscles i mentioned... youtube smashwerx and kelly starret and athleanX. these guys are very knowledgeable.

Aug 29, 2019
String feeling after break
by: Mary

I recently broke my foot in 6 places 3 were my toes.It has been over 10 weeks and my pinkie toe feels like it has a string around it and feels cold inside. Any ideas what it could be?

The feeling you have of "cold" concerns me a little. You should see a doctor.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Aug 24, 2019
String sensation and toes
by: Barbara

I have experienced the same issue as if a string or hair is wrapped tightly around my middle toe, mostly with the right foot. I just turned 60, physical active, but this has been going on for YEARS. Recently started experiencing the same in my left foot. I have had low back issues and degenerative disc disease as well. The newest thing is the sensation of something crawling on the skin of my upper thigh, standing or laying. Sometimes an itch. It’s very frustrating, but I just associate it with nerve compression or damage—just do my best, try not to do more damage to my back, and keep myself occupied!

Jul 18, 2019
String around toes.
by: Nancy

I believe the feeling being discussed is actually a circulation problem and not a ligament issue. Have your extremities checked for PAD peripheral artery disease. That is what I have and that is the exact description of how my toes feel.

Although more often then not, the sensation is neurological in nature, there is always a possibility that poor circulation may be part of the problem.
If this condition persists, it should be checked out by a doctor.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Jul 05, 2019
Omg..I am not alone
by: Yolanda

For the last month I have this sensation on my left big toe like a hair or string is wrapped around it. It is not painful nor does it hurt in any way it is just the most annoying feeling. I have no idea what is causing it nor how to get rid of it.

Jun 25, 2019
Rubber Band Around Toes
by: Marie

This thread is beyond annoying. Why do people write about the problem but nobody provides a solution? All I want to know is how to get rid of it. WHAT IS THE CURE?????

To find a cure you first have to determine the source of the pain; you will need to see a doctor for that.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Jun 08, 2019
String around toes - YES! (base of the toes)
by: Debbie

That's exactly how I would describe it and how I did describe it to my podiatrist. He diagnosed Morton's neuroma (which can be from shoes that pinch the toes, or some kind of injury in the area). Most curious (to me) is that I notice it MOST when I'm driving or sitting — so not, technically "on my feet." It's really super annoying.

I had custom orthotics made and purchased extra wide shoes. But mostly having to wait out the inflammation process. Yeah, did a cortisone shot too and trying to remember to take aleve (inflammation).

Also trying Hypericum 30X (aka St. John's Wort in a dissolvable tablet). Can get on Amazon. Supposed to be homeopathic help for nerve damage. Too early to tell.


Typically neuroma pain will occur when walking and not sitting. Since your symptoms appear worse when you sit or drive, I would look to your lower back for the origins of your foot pain.

Marc Mitnick DPM

May 29, 2019
String around toe started 2 days ago
by: Holly

Agreed - Thankful for Docs words and to find I am not crazy. Started 2 days ago- around right big toe only, no pain, just the hair or string sensation. Have had excruciating pain years ago with Cloud-Climber shoes that apparently didn't have good sole support - old doc at the bar told me to stuff tp in my shoe - it worked. Got another pair of shoes -never happened again. Not recently - but have had awful pain in the same toe several times that I attributed to gout brought on by too much of something in the diet (seafood?) I wear boots all of the time, and mainly one pair for work. They are good boots, but I have been thinking I need a new pair and I'm going to start there - with new boots and see what happens. Thank you all

Apr 02, 2019
String on Big Toe - at age 52
by: Lara

It is the big toe on my right foot that feels like a string is wrapped around it at the base of my toe. I kept thinking it was a loose thread in my sock that got stuck on my toe. It was really annoying me and I couldn't stand it. So, I took off my socks and walked around barefoot. But, the sensation persisted. I called my good friend of the same age and said , "I feel like I have a string around my big toe and it won't go away." I also described it like I had a rubber band on my toe or a toe ring but I never wore a toe ring. My friend said, that's funny, I have the same thing."

It is not a neuroma. I know what that feels like and have been treated for that with two rounds of quartizone shots to take care of. Its just like the doctor described above: like you're stepping on your bunched up sock or as I described to my doctor, like I had a stone in my shoe. That was terrible and painful with every step. I would recommend the quartizone shots for a neuroma as well as good shoes and adequate padding.

As far as the string feeling on my big toe, I look forward to finding the right remedy to get rid of that annoying sensation.

Apr 02, 2019
Same Here!
by: Heidi

Thank goodness for the internet! I have been having some lower back pain, then I hurt my sciatica on the elliptical at the gym. A week later, my back is fine, but my second toe on my right foot feels like a thread is tied around the first joint. Like other posters, it’s exactly the same sensation as when you have a hole in your sock with a toe sticking through all day. I was amazed that my sock was fine, and there was no thread.

The sensation isn’t painful, or even that annoying. Last year, I would get random toe twitching on that same foot, so I’m sure it’s back related. No diabetes, but I do have Hashimotos.

Mar 28, 2019
I am not mad!
by: Jo

I thought I was experiencing moments of madness! I get mine just before falling asleep, on my right big toe, at the foot. Been happening periodically for about 2 years.

I do have back problems.

Mar 28, 2019
Feels like long hair between toes
by: james

I have a lower back lumbar L5 disc bulge painful with lumps in muscles around L5. Also in the morning my feet hurt like needles poking them for 5 minutes Taking a shower helps make the pain go away. I have worn high arch supports for years seems to help a little. Also my neck hurts to turn to the left muscles lock up this has been the norm for 10 years.
I believe all my pain is from lower lumbar damage this is not fun.

Feb 23, 2019
Feeling of string tied around my toes
by: Regina from Vancouver. BC

I have the same feeling of a string tied around my second toe of my left foot. After reading these comments of trama or back problems, I realize mine could have something to do with a total knee replacement I had on my left knee 7 years ago.
Thanks for the comments, very insightful.

Jan 11, 2019
String tied toes
by: Elizabeth

I have the exact same feeling on my right foot, same toes.

I had been diagnosed with a neuroma a few years back, but this issue is fairly recent. I tried wearing inserts but they were too uncomfortable so I tossed them. Now I just deal with the pain.

Also, a few years ago I noticed that my nails on my two "pointer" toes (next to big toe) starting growing in thick. Only those two toes. I thought it was a fungus but it's not (sorry to sound gross!). The podiatrist said that it was because they must be rubbing my shoe. Not true. I think something more is happening with my feet, I just don't have time to deal with it.

But this string tied toe thing is a pain in the butt, or rather foot! It's so annoying and somewhat painful at times, but I chalk it all up to getting older, sadly.

Kudos to the podiatrist who took time out of his busy schedule to offer such a lengthy response and diagnosis!! Thank you!

Good luck, all!

Dec 15, 2018
Me too
by: TINA

This just started last week on my second toe on right foot. At first I thought it was a string in my socks or I'm crazy. Changed socks same thing. Vey weird sensation.

Oct 30, 2018
String around toes
by: Jukes

I have the SAME thing. It feels like a string around the second and third toes on my right foot. I had extensive damage/nerves to the foot, in high school.

Oct 08, 2018
Strange feeling in toes
by: Trish

I have the same feeling. So glad to find others with the same condition. I had bunion surgery two years ago and thought it was some sort of nerve damage as a result of that procedure.
Now I can return to my Podietrist with a better explanation and
hopefully a better diiagnose as a result.

Sep 26, 2018
The string around the toe thing
by: Carol

Was looking for the name of this condition. So it is an impinged nerve or a neuroma or capsulitus? A couple of years ago my podiatrist gave me a simple toe splint (can find these on Amazon), a prescription for prednisone to take over a couple of weeks AND instructed me to wear New Balance shoes (The thought being straight, stiff lace ups) all the time!

Well it did clear up but recently I had to see him again. I thought he might reorder prednisone along with previous instructions but he said it had not gotten that far. So I am back to wearing stiff lace ups. Found two different pairs (black...was lucky to find black soles. I hate tacky white soles!

The older you get, the more these things flare up!

Sep 25, 2018
re string sensation
by: Malcolmur

I have had recent spinal fusion surgery L5-S1. Immediately after this surgery I had the feeling of a string tied tight around my big toe etc The surgeon explained that this is related to nerve damage in my back.


Sep 20, 2018
String around toes
by: Chris

It looks like quite a few of us have this. My 3rd and 4th toes on my left foot feels like I have a string tied around them. This started about a month ago. I notice the top of my left foot is swollen. I have not injured my foot. I just started getting charlie horses in both calf's in the mornings. I do not have peripheral artery disease or diabetes. I wish I knew what this was. No pain.

Sep 19, 2018
Peripheral Neuropathy
by: Mary Ellen

I've been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy. In my particular case it was caused by chemotherapy, but it can be caused by many things,including diabetes. The sensation in both of my feet definitely feels like string tied around my toes (that's what I searched to find this page). I've recently started taking cymbalta for it. Hopefully that will help. It takes a few weeks to kick in. Good luck.

Sep 07, 2018
String feeling around toes
by: Sri

I have the situation with feeling like strung is tightly around my 2nd and third toes on both feet.
It's the worst first thing in the morning after sleeping.
It isn't painful but scares me because it's similar to the feeling you get when a Charlie Horse is starting.
I have tried ibuprofen and firmer shoes and it doesn't help.It started after a short course of prednisone and heat wave. I sure would appreciate knowing what this is and how to resolve it.

Aug 30, 2018
Me too
by: James

Last week I felt a strange sensation on my right Big toe.I thought that my toe was poking through my sock in my work boot. I was surprised to see that i had no hole in my sock when I took off my boot. It has continued ever since.

I often do my daughter's hair and put an elastic around my finger while brushing. It is the closest feeling that I could describe that is similar to this sensation. It doesn't hurt, it's just annoying.

Aug 14, 2018
Same feeling
by: Erin

Oh, my! I am so glad I am not alone in this! I have had this strange feeling for several days. It feels like a hair is wrapped around the 3rd toe of my left foot, right around the toenail. I have showered daily, paying extra attention to cleaning my feet, clipped my toenails, and have even looked at my toe with a magnifying glass, only to find nothing. I am in no unusual pain from this symptom; it is just extremely annoying. What in the world could it be?!?

Aug 13, 2018
Hair on my toe

I am going nuts feeling like there is a hair wrapped around my toe.It has been that way for several months. It's more annoying than anything, I just wonder what it is

Jun 30, 2018
Feels like a string or hair tied around my left toes
by: Taryn

I have the same feeling like I actually looked at my toe to see if a hair was wrapped around my 3rd last toe on the left side. It's a funny sensation. Doesn't hurt just feels weird. What is it?

Jun 28, 2018
Feel the same sensation
by: Christine

I too have been feeling the same sensation on my left foot. I notice it during the night. I wake up thinking there is something wrapped around my toe adjacent to the big toe, like a thread from the blanket. It slowly goes away when I move around (or at least I don’t notice it). It happened for about a month, almost nightly. Then it stopped for about 3 months. It has returned past few nights. My fear is that it’s type 2 diabetes since I read that as a possibility. However, I’ve been losing weight past few months so seems strange if it’s a weight issue. (I’m about 25 Lbs over my target weight).

May 19, 2018
Feels like a string tied around 2 of my toes
by: Kimberly

For the last 2 months I have had a strange sensation that feels like a string is tied around the base of my 2nd & 3rd toe from the pinky. I have been doing alot of working out at the gym with treadmill, eliptical, bike and row machine and I really notice it most on tread mill but basically have it alot of the time. It doesnt hurt but its very annoying sensation that irritates me all day and there is nothing wrapped around my toes. It also feels like the top side of my toenail is poking into the other toe and irritates it. I went to foot Dr and first he said acquired keratosis get over the counter orthotic which I did but no relief. I tried several bandages to separate my toes and even a toe ring. The toe ring seemed to help a little but didnt alleviate it. Next Dr. said neuroma gave me cortisone shot, helped for 3 days and no more. He then said he would give me shots 1 every 2 weeks for 5 weeks to kill the nerve. I took the first shot but now am nervous to continue with this therapy. Dont know if this will make my entire foot numb or if this is right thing to do for this. It is a very annoying condition I cant stop thinking about it all day it is irritating. What should I do, continue this killing of the nerve or would another cortisone shot have helped. I didnt feel it for 3 days maybe he didnt give me enough medicine in the shot. Advise?

Jan 18, 2018
Feeling like there is a hair around the 5th toe (baby toe)
by: H

Ive been having this weird feeling like there is hair around my right baby toe, for 2 days now. I keep checking it again and again to see if there's anything there, but nope. I work as a waitress,so I stay on my feet a lot. I also started to notice ( a week or so before the toe thing) some pains on the right middle-esh side of my back, so maybe thats related somehow.
I only had one back injury during, and it was 6 or 7 years ago, and the scans were clear.
(P.S, Im 18 y.o)

Dec 24, 2017
String tied around toes
by: Nickie

That sensation could be because of an issue in the lumbar vertebra. Have your orthopod do a proper work up

Nov 05, 2017
Same problem after surgery
by: Julian

I had ankle surgery 3 months ago. About 2 weeks after my cast was put on I started having the feeling there was tape around my big toe & I had a burning sensation on the top of my foot from the base of my big toe up to my ankle. Now the cast is off & I still have the feeling that there is something around my big toe & extending up my foot toward my ankle. The top of my foot is numb from my big toe up to my ankle on the half of my foot with the "string around the toe" problem. The surgeon just shrugs & says "give it time" I am very concerned I may have permanent nerve damage.

Oct 26, 2017
String round toes
by: D

I have been having same feeling round 2 toes on my right foot but I am in wheelchair and don’t stand or walk have been in chair 24 years so I have not tripped or hurt my foot and I don’t recall banging it in any way but I am type 2 diabetic and in 2 lots medication ..... any explanations please

Since you are diabetic, best to check with your doctor.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Oct 07, 2017
String tied round left foot big toe
by: Kevin French

Above is what I googled too, as I have that exact sensation of the feeling that string or hair was wrapped around my left big toe. It doesn't hurt, it's just a very strange sensation. When it first started I used to put my hand down to my foot as if to try and remove a hair from round my toe, lol

Aug 31, 2017
Thank you!
by: Kelly

I too found this post because I Googled "I feel like there is a thread tied around my toe." Prior to my experience, I had never heard of such a phenomenon. My sensation started two days ago. It isn't painful--just distracting. Thank you for giving me a _possible_ explanation for my mysterious symptom. cor

Aug 11, 2017
String/hair feeling on Pinky toe
by: Gretchen

Well I find this interesting that I am not the only one with this odd feeling. I have had back problems for years. A few yrs ago I got a spinal injection and I have been pretty good ever since. Two days ago I got thrown from my horse and I went down HARD right on my tail bone. Well now I have that odd sensation of a string on my little toe. Hoping it goes away.

Jul 16, 2017
String wrapped around toe feeling
by: K

I found this page looking for an explanation as to why I have the sensation of a hair wrapped around my great toe on the left. It started yesterday and is intermittent. It has to be nerve-mediated but there is no injury and it's horizontal across the top of my toe at the base of the nail. Totally weird. Oh, I'm in the medical field too and if someone came to me with this complaint I'd be scratching my head. Lol.

Jun 25, 2017
My similar pain from lumbar nerve damage
by: Traci

I have had this pain or odd feeling for years and my neurological Dr. Explained it is from my herniated disc but n lumbar L5 area. If you look at a dermatome map it ties that area with L5.
That is just my personal experience.
Hope it helps someone.
Best wishes.

Jun 20, 2017
Same thing
by: Nan

I have had the same sensation for about a year. For the first 6 months it came & went. For the last several months, the feeling is always there. Added to that is a sensation that the tip of the toe has become disconnected from the rest of the toe. Those feelings last all waking moments. The seem on my sock if touching the toe makes it worse, so I am constantly rearranging my sock. It is my toe next to the pinky or last toe. While it does not look different, my nail has started to grow upward and it is hard to clip. My Primary Care Dr. & Podiatrist have no idea what it is. While I am glad to see I am not alone with this sensation, I wish none of us had it or at least had a cure. (My hair is long too & I thought it was hair at 1st too, but it is not)

May 25, 2017
Second toe strung
by: Marcy

Wtf, so annoying as if the top 2nd toe tarsal was being strangled, wandering if a little neuropathy from sciatica, or if I am borderline diabetic? Strangest annoying feeling, usually while foot is bare or at rest.

May 18, 2017
I have the same thing
by: missodessa

all day today I have noticed the same sensation of having a hair/string tied around my toes but nothing actually being there. I am sockless in nike slides most of the day in my house I've never had an illness broken bone or surgery. I do work from home sewing and occasional I get thread everywhere so I thought at first maybe it was thread that was stuck to my sandalor the place where I sit my feet t my desk. Nothing is there and the sensation followed me where ever I went. I decided to google it because it was so odd and thats how I ended up here. It doesnt hurt but it is annoying to feel like something is touching your foot but nothing is there.

May 02, 2017
String tied around toe
by: Chris

I have the same symptoms in my third toe on my right foot. I too would check to see if I had something wrapped around it like a piece of hair. I notice it during the night. My feet are typically warm, not cold. It slowly goes away when I start moving and wiggling my toes. it's a relief to know that I'm not the only one experiencing it, but wish there was a clearer answer.

Apr 10, 2017
This is Real
by: Michael

I have the same or similar issue. To putt plainly it feels as though a string or piece of long hair has become loosely wrapped around my two center toes. Currently no pain just the want to remove the wrapping but nothing is there. I have not seen anyone about this but probably will sometime in the future. I am certain my podiatrist is going to look at me funny.

Mar 31, 2017
String Around Toes
by: Jeanine

I just had surgery to release a suspected pinched nerve on the top of my foot. My big toe and second toe feel like a wire around the base of them. They also feel like they are sleeping, pins and needles. I don't believe the surgery did anything. This stems from a broken ankle two years ago. It just continues to get worse.

Mar 23, 2017
Started as feeling of string around baby toe...
by: Hilarie

It started 6 yrs ago; this annoying sensation like a string around my baby toe. I have very long hair so naturally I checked, rechecked, checked again with a magnifying glass b/c something had to be causing this feeling. I really hate to say it but over the years the sensation slowly moved to the next toe, then the next and has currently stopped just before my big toe. Much to my chagrin the 'string' was only the beginning; with the progression from each toe, my toes now curl under and all 4 toes have become deformed. With effort and great discomfort/pain I can momentarily massage them straight. If I don't wear supportive shoes, like slippers around the house the two toes closest to my big toe actually overlap now. All the nails grow awkwardly straight out of my once perfectly pedicured tootsies. This bending and twisting leads my toes to have callus' where they shouldn't even be touching the ground. Similarly the malformation causes odor under/inside the curl of all 4. I wash my toes multiple times a day and use powder. My doctor has no answer and its frustrating. I've become so vexed and have given up on finding a cause let alone a solution. Living with the daily agony coupled with the embarrassment at having to hide my once truly adorable feet is discouraging. Moreover, without exaggeration it effects the way I walk. Its like a 18 hour a day curse. Sorry to be so dramatic, but when you live with what started as a 'string' sensation which over time consumes and morphes all your toes causing pain with no solution in sight,,,you get dramatic. Good luck to all of you with a couple of weeks with this affliction. I pray that yours will be short lived. Amy ideas Dr.? Please


Hi Hilarie,

Most of the cases that people have written in about appear to be related to the possibility of neuroma, which is a nerve entrapment that could possibly give the feeling of a string wrapped around the toe(s)
Your situation is different in that it has spread from one toe to the next and has actually deformed your toes as it has changed the position of the toes making it difficult to walk comfortably.
There is a very rare condition known as Ainhum disease which is a constriction at the base of the toe, usually the fifth toe. This constriction will eventually be visible and because of the tightness, causes the toe to swell, simply because blood cannot drain from the toe. It will also cause bone disintegration within the toe and eventually lead to amputation of the toe.
Now, your symptoms are nowhere near that, and quite frankly, even though I am aware of the condition, I have never actually seen a case, but I am in the majority with that.
You have had the problem for six years and from what I know about Ainhum, the progression is very quick.
Having said all that, have you had an xray of the toes? If not I would suggest one with the idea of looking to see if there is any bone destruction in the affected toe bones.
There is also a casual relationship with your symptoms to scleroderma which has a genetic predisposition and affects many organs of the body, but in regards to musculo-skeletal issues could possibly cause the transformation of your toes.
Talk to your doctor about "working" you up for what is known as the collagen diseases and to include testing for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis as well.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Jan 24, 2017
Me too
by: Charis

I too have that same sensation. I have long hair and my first thought was that a hair got wrapped around my toe but nothing was there. Been going on for 3 days and so I googled it. It is on a toe that I'm pretty sure I broke last year so I think it has something to do with that. Glad to know I'm not totally crazy! 😊

Jan 10, 2017
Hair around toe? Nope!
by: Ramona

For about a week now Injave had the same sensation, as though a hair or fine string is caught around me second toes. It is quite bothersome, and I even tried scrubbing all dead skin off and checking for a fine sliver or something. There is nothing there. It is the base of my toe, where it meets the foot, but at the next joint. It feels as if I have a toe ring stuck there. It is so strange - and I keep trying to massage it, pop it, stretch it- anything !!!after reading these comments I wonder if it truly is just some type of nerve inflammation. I am going to treat with ibuprofen and see if that helps.

Oct 06, 2016
Neuroma or Neuropathy
by: Judy

I am having the same sensation. I had an issue previously with Mortons neuroma in this same area but it was quite painful and I saw a podiatrist before it cleared up. But I am also a diabetic. I assumed maybe the neuroma was returning but maybe it could be diabetic neuropathy?

Oct 01, 2016
Sensation of string wrapped around toes
by: Yvonne

I broke my ankle and foot several weeks ago. For the last two weeks, I've had the sensation that there is a fine string wrapped tightly around my toes. Also, my foot goes numb if I have it down for any extended time. It feels like a block of wood at the end of my leg, with no feeling in it at all. Shouldn't my foot be getting better, instead of worse ? I'm sure it has to do with injured nerves and tendons, but I don't know how serious this is or if I should be seeking the medical advice of a specialist.

You should telephone the doctor treating your broken ankle and let he or she know your symptoms. Let the treating doctor decide if that is a problem or not.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Sep 25, 2016
After surgery pain
by: Ann

Hi, I'm hoping someone can help me.....I had my big toe, second toe straightened and bunion removed.....that was 08 June, now 25 Sept, I can't put my toes down when I walk, can only walk on side of foot...The pain at night especially is unbearable. It feels like something was left in my foot after surgery...Like tape around both my toes, like I have something in my sock plus a very tight string between my toes....You are all saying it doesn't hurt, mine does. At night it's so bad I almost think I'm going to go to the ER.....I want an MRI my surgeon says no he'd go for an xray. Most drs will not see you until after 6 months has passed since your surgery.....I'd appreciate reading if anyone has any ideas. I'm going to physical far it's done nothing. Any ideas, please can anyone help?

You are almost 4 months post surgery and for most people there should be a dramatic reduction in pain, not complete, but certainly much less then initially experienced after surgery.
At this point you should be able to bear weight on the foot even though there may be some discomfort.
Call your surgeon's office and demand to be seen. To me at least, it sounds like you are not healing properly. If, there is an issue, the earlier it is addressed, the better the chance of a good outcome.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Sep 17, 2016
Same issues here, 45 yr old woman
by: Anonymous

I have been having this same issue for the past week and was hoping it would just go away. I'm hoping I don't need to see a podiatrist, I read the drs comments on here and my feet only know flip flops, I'm a Florida girl. lol. It is aggravating constantly trying to remove a strong that isn't there.

Aug 31, 2016
String around toes
by: Diane

As time passes after my surgery to fix sciatica, the "string" isn't as tight. Perhaps due to walking more? Anyway, the top of the big toe gives me grief. It feels like a partial sock around the toes to the ankle is shrinking, pulling. Big toe remains numb. Some feeling is returning to other toes, but I think I will need help with a cane for the rest of my life. At least I have the leg.

Aug 31, 2016
by: Anonymous

So happy to know its not just me. For a couple of weeks I have the feeling like toes two and three have a string or hair around them and themes nothing .

Is this a problem for many and why? Does anyone know?

Aug 04, 2016
String around esp. Big toe!
by: Diane

It's apparent my sensation has to do with recent L5-S1 laminectomy microdiscectomy. Toes cannot move upward and big toe is numb. Annoying pain is making it difficult to do PT and to walk.

May 20, 2016
Sensation of a string around the toe
by: Anonymous

I have the same issue with my right toe..second digit. I've had it off and on for 3 years. It is a weird sensation but not painful....just annoying. I am 54 and a diabetic. So, I have issues with my feet to begin with. My doctor stated it was probably a nerve issue related to my neuropathy. I'm glad I am not the only one who has this. Thanks for sharing your stories!

Apr 08, 2016
Similar to thread
by: AT

In the past month, I have had moments where I feel like a long piece of hair is wrapped around my 2nd and 3rd toes.
After carefully looking, there is nothing there. It then goes away after 5 minutes. I will get it checked as it feels very weird.

Mar 29, 2016
Same issue! Phantom Sock String!
by: SS

For just over two weeks, I have had the sensation as if my sock was sliding and bunching under the toes of my right foot. I keep pushing/clenching my toes as if to alleviate the material bunching, but there's nothing there! I cannot stop pulling on my sock, but it's not sliding down. I wore no socks and still felt it. I'm 40, female, weigh 123, and am 5'2". I'm not a runner, but am in my feet the majority of the day as I teach.
It looks like there's a little bit more flesh between my toes and the ball of my foot when compared to the left which feels fine, but it's difficult to tell.

I may try icing my foot and will inform my doctor, but she always tells me I'm too young to have any "issues".

Dec 09, 2015
me too
by: Anonymous

I have the exact same sensation - like a string wrapped around my toes. Wonder if a pointier shoe causes it. Am asking my doc at my physical next month. No high hopes.

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(items I prescribe in the office)

Orthotics for multiple types of foot pain
best buy in a pre-made orthotic
click link below


Orthotics for heel and arch pain for those who must wear dress shoes
click link below


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I've been doing some aggressive research lately (it's how I found your incredible website) and realize now that my symptoms are not consistant with the diagnosis.


Hunterville, NC
….after reviewing your amazing site (great for the avg. jill). So thank you very much!!!


I am really, really impressed with your plain-speak explanations for the various conditions.


This was an extremely helpful site. I have an appointment on the 18th and your info. Was right on target…..


A well organized site containing much information written in a manner that the average reader can comprehend.


Ontario, Canada
I found your website and articles most interesting.


Thank you for a quick response. I think your site is the best information site on foot pain and I have viewed many.


(location unknown)
I came to your website, via www.foot-pain explained .com which I think is also your website? I thought explanations for different types of problems were well addressed and thoughtfully stated for the patient in mind.


New York
You have an amazing and extremely informative site. I enjoyed looking through all of the data and stats.


Memphis, TN
Thanks again so much for the information in the article. Very interesting.


Great article. I have had plantar fasciitis since I was in high school……..

J. Simmons

(location unknown)
Dear Dr. Mitnick, The orthotics arrived four days ago and I slipped them into my shoes immediately. I was skeptical as to the usefulness of the item, they really didn't look very exotic. I have to say though, after using them for just four days, I have experienced grand relief from my foot pain. Even the very first day, I was able to do a lot of work while on my feet with at least a 75% reduction of pain. It has only gotten better every day, and I go nowhere without my shoes with the orthotics. I had been experiencing extreme heel and sole pain for about six months and had to take extended breaks off my feet many times a day as well as regular doses of Ibuprofen. Since getting the orthotics, my life has returned to normal and I feel good again. Just wanted to say thanks for the recommendation for a very effective item, I had no idea what a change this item could affect.

Yours truly,

J.C. Forbes

Thanks for the Response, you hit it on the head.


Redondo Beach, CA
Thank you for your time and expertise in answering my question…..


(location unknown)
First, thanks for putting together this website. Its the most informative site I have found dealing with foot problems. Last June I started having pain and swelling at …….


(location unknown)
First of all, thank you for having all this useful information available in one place. I've been through most of your website and based on my research, pain and evaluations I think I've narrowed things down quite a bit.

Pete M.

(location unknown)
Thank you for the best site I have found when researching foot pain.

Glenda B.

Madison, Alabama
Thanks for replying so quickly. I was a bit concerned. I think your website is great, and chock full of info.....


Denison, TX
Dr. Marc, Thank you so much for your reply which seemed to be right on. I have researched many sites but you put me on the right path to the possible answer. My foot pain may not rule the rest of my life after all! I believe I'll make a sign that reads, "THE END IS NEAR!" Thanks Very Much,


West lafayette, IN
Dear doubt you get positive comments re your site...May I please be added to the list of your admirers. In all of my years of web surfing I would say your site is right there with the very best. Thank you for taking the time to write the terrific info you provide and for putting things into laymen terms for us mere mortals. I pray you have much on going success and thank you again for a deed well done. As for me I did not find much help for my symptoms and will continue on my quest. Were you anywhere in the South I would make and appointment...Thanks again dear sir...m.e.

Michael E.

Tampa, Florida 33624
Hi. This is a great site! I'm a healthy middle aged woman who is in good health, but.....


Just a wee word of thanks for your wonderful website...It is a terrific service...Thank you for providing your knowledge and help...With highest regards, m ebeling

Michael D. Ebeling

Tampa, Florida 33624

Thanks for a most interesting website, which has helped a lot.



Dear Dr.Mitnick

I usually do my research on the Mayo clinic website. I think your website is the most informative site I have found when researching foot pain.

I thank you for putting together this incredible website.


Dragica W.


....I have been told that it is not hard enough to be cut off. Please help, I am not sure what to do now! THANKS FOR A WONDERFUL AND VERY HELPFUL SITE!


South Africa

You have an unusually clear, informative and well-written website for laypersons. Thank you for that.

Matthew W.

Mansfield Ctr, CT

First, I'd like to thank you for all the information that you provide on your website and the opportunity to write to you.


Placentia, California

First, I want to let you know that you have the best web site I've found related to foot issues. (The only thing I had difficulty finding was the "ask a question" page.)


Unknown location

I received the orthotics Monday afternoon and began wearing them Tuesday. After two days I would say that I have noticed a huge improvement in the discomfort I have been experiencing. My foot feels better than it has in months.

Ric J.

Unknown location

I greatly admire someone like you who would donate and dedicate so much time and effort to helping strangers with no compensation. Truly, it is uncommonly kind. And your site is so intelligently arranged.

Ron R.

Pacific Grove, CA

I used to work for a podiatrist (front desk) back during summers in college years ago, so I know the benefits of good care. Again, I want to thank you for an EXCELLENT website. It was so great to get to your site (top of google search) and actually find all the answers I needed EASILY and QUICKLY! Clearly you put a ton of work into it and I really appreciate it.

All the best,


Alameda, California

By the way, millions of websites could use yours as a guideline on how to organize information and make the site user-friendly. Kudos to you!


Thank you for your very interesting and informative site!


Hi. I come to your site often looking for information. It is really informative and I appreciate it very much. I have RA and have been having considerable amount of foot pain...... Dee RN

Thanks very much for the wonderful informative site.


New Zealand

Thank You for my answer! I have been schedule for a bone density scan, allingment, and I am in the process of getting orthotics made, and checking out the natural remedies. Thank again! What a great web site!



Yes I want both pair of orthotics. You don't have an option of ordering 2 at one time so I had to place the order twice. Thanks. My husband likes these and wants to put them in all of his shoes. (referring to Superstep orthotics)

Cindy H.

I searched the internet everywhere for a clear description and illustration of my symptoms/problem. was where I ended my search with answers. If I lived in Jersey (left 30 years ago) and didn't live in Florida I would definetly make an appointment with Dr. Mitnick.

Thanks, Kathy

1st of all THANKS A LOT for your great site......


Thank you so much for your response. I will let you know how I am doing if you would like. Your website is awesome!


South Carolina
Hello! I want to thank you for such an informative website! I found you based on my ankle pain search and am happy to realize that there may be a relatively simple cause and solution....


unknown location

...Thanks for your fantastic service.


Arlington, VA

Thank you so very much, that would be much appreciated. I love those insoles, by the way. (referring to Superstep orthotics)

Kelly W.

San Clemente, CA

Dr Marc is fantastic...He seems to know exactly what you are feeling with the problems you are having. I wish he was in my home town so I could go to him with my problems!!!!!!!!!!!!!


location unknown

Great insights! Thanks Doc, you're the best.


location unknown

I have been experiencing foot pain of various sorts and am working to figure out what it is. I found this site and can only say BRAVO!! What an excellent site! The time it must have taken to put all this together must've been a daunting task! I am sure it has helped so many people. Thank you so very much for doing this.


location unknown

Dr. Mitnick, Thank you so much for your reply. I did let my physician know and they took an x-ray - all is well! Also, thank you for providing this wonderful site, it is very helpful with lots of useful information! I appreciate your gift of time! God bless.


Dr. Mitnick, Thank you, you were 100% correct. The pain finally brought me to the ER. I spent 8 days in the hospital. The Doppler you spoke of was able to show that there was no pulse in that foot. This was an arterial clot that split and traveled throughout my leg. My leg was almost amputated. I am in rough shape but have all my parts intact!! You certainly know what you are talking about. Thank you for taking the time to answer. Yours Truly!


Staying at home after hallux surgery I spend quite a lot of time seaching info useful for avoiding problems which might come back. Today I found your site and I am .... delighted it happened. It's one of the best site I found last days.



Thanks for taking time to read and answer so many questions. It is truly a public service!


Seattle, WA

I just wanted to say that I am very greatful for this website!!


location unknown

Also, and importantly, just want to praise this web site. Thorough and thoughtfully presented, it certainly must be of considerable assistance to anyone with a foot problem. Terrific -- and very interesting.I trust the address comes up easily for those seeking information.


New Jersey

Thanks so much for answering my question. You've been more help to me than my own Dr. has been lately. Thanks again....I hope to be able to walk without pain someday.


location unknown

Wow, that is exactly the information needed!!! thank you thank you thank you!!! I appreciate this help so very much from Marc Mitnick DPM. Excellent information and help to improve One's life.


location unknown

Thanks so much for this website Dr. Marc! It is so nice that you have this ask the doctor feature..I'm sure I'ts been helpful for alot of people. I will try what you suggested and see if it helps...thanks again!


Evansville, IA

Dear Marc

I just want to say thank you for the quick response and the good info. I find it amazing and a super nice thing that you do here by answering medical questions at no charge.

Russ W.

location unknown

Your website is full of a lot of helpful information, and I am very impressed with the time in which you responded to my post. Thank you again for your time and consideration in your response.


location unknown

Thank you very much for the information, I will consider it. Excellent web site.


San Diego, CA

Dr. Mitnick, Just want to say thank you so very much for your quick response and very informative reply! After reading what you had to say, I called the doctor's office and was able to get in and see him the same day as my injury. Toe was x-rayed and luckily, it is not broken or fractured. Very badly bruised and will probably lose the toe nail. And although my toe and toe nail are still very black and blue and very sore, they ARE both starting to feel a little better. So again, thank you! I am so very happy that I came across your website. The service you provide is outstanding and immeasurable!


Albany, NY

Thank you so much for all of your advice. In searching the web for people dealing with this same issue i can tell you that you are a Knight In shining Armor! If I lived in Jersey I would gladly be your Spokesperson. Hopefully next time you hear from me it will be good news. God Bless,

Jill S.

location unknown



Whichita, KS

thanks again, this site is very helpful.


Boston, MA

Like others have stated...This site is amazing and I am so thankful that it was created.

....Keep up what your doing. Your a life saver.



Thanks again for the information provided on your site. It's easy for non-medical folk to understand your writing, and helps provide better communication between patient and doctor.



Wonderful advice

by: Anonymous

This is the best site for foot problem info.

Thank you for this information. This description fits my pain and inflammation behind my 2nd toe perfectly.

by: Max

location unknown
Again, I really appreciate that you responded to my inquiry, and that your mention of Parkinson's helped me to find my way to a diagnosis of this difficult to diagnose disease. Most patients see on average 16 doctors before they are diagnosed. I hope that you can help other people that ask for your expertise in the future.

Barb D.

I just wanted to say that I am very greatful for this website!! I have had a fusion in my rt foot and am finally getting a little bit better......


location unknown
Again, Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to answer my question....your an angel!


Thank you for your response. You have provided some great insight (to my question)....


location unknown
Thank-you so very much for responding so quickly and in such detail to my question!! I will give my surgeon a call today!! This website is terrific!!!! Thank-you again!


North Carolina
Many Thanks Dr Marc!
Thank you for your response. It sounds like a good plan to me. He did not cut the wart out first ...


location unknown

Thanks again doc for having this website and we STILL need qualified Podiatrists in beautiful sunny Tampa Bay (Bradenton) Florida.

Bessie Mae

Dear Dr. Mitnick, Thank you so very much for taking your time to answer my question. You have greatly relieved my anxiety related to the continual tingly I feel in my feet. I will share your response with my podiatrist next week. God bless you for having this question and answer page on your website! Most gratefully,

Lynne T.

location unknown
Your webpage is excellent, I commend you on sharing your knowledge to the public.


New Jersey

Thank you. you were more detailed than what others have told me they finally called from the last xrays and my son is now in a cast for 2 weeks he did have a fracture that was not noticeable.

a mom

location unknown

I have read your website and I have to admit that I am amazed at all the information that is on here. I have learned more than the three years I have been going to several doctors that I have seen!!


Lenoir, NC

Thank you so much Doc for a quick and thorough response!


Bellevue, WA

I cannot thank you enough for your response, opinion, and suggestions! I want you to know how much it means to me, and I'm sure everyone else who has ever asked you a question! I feel like you're a lifesaver and have empowered me to take a stronger role and stand up for myself and my feet!


location unknown

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