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Causes of Pain Under the Big Toe

Tuesday, 13 June 2023 00:00

The big toe contributes in large measure to a person’s ability to stand, walk, or run. It bears the majority of the body’s weight when doing any of these activities. For that reason, the big toe can often become painful. Two common causes of pain under the big toe are gout and sesamoiditis. Gout is an inflammatory condition brought on largely by an overabundance of uric acid in the body. When the uric acid crystallizes within the joint of the big toe, the result is sharp, throbbing, and constant pain. Other symptoms are redness, swelling, and tenderness to touch. Gout flare-ups typically subside after a week or so, but may return if the underlying causes are not treated. Sesamoiditis is the inflammation of two tiny bones located just under the big toe joint. This pair of bones, which are free-floating, help with balance and allow the big toe to flex. The sesamoids are under constant pressure during ambulatory activities, typically felt in runners, dancers, and other athletes who put extreme pressure on the big toe. For help with these or other complaints of pain in the big toe, it is suggested that you make an appointment with a podiatrist for a diagnosis and treatment options.

Toe pain can disrupt your daily activities. If you have any concerns, contact Howard Waxman, DPM of Pleasant Valley Podiatry. Our doctor can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

What Causes Toe Pain?

Most severe toe pain is caused due to a sports injury, trauma from dropping something heavy on the toe, or bumping into something rigid. Other problems can develop over time for various reasons.

Toe pain can be caused by one or more ailments. The most common include:

  • Trauma
  • Sports injury
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Corns and calluses
  • Hammertoe
  • Bunions
  • Blisters
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Sprains
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Dislocations

When to See a Podiatrist

  • Severe pain
  • Persistent pain that lasts more than a week
  • Signs of infection
  • Continued swelling
  • Pain that prevents walking


In many cases the cause of toe pain is obvious, but in others, a podiatrist may want to use more advanced methods to determine the problem. These can range from simple visual inspections and sensation tests to X-rays and MRI scans. Prior medical history, family medical history, and any recent physical traumatic events will all be taken into consideration for a proper diagnosis.


Treatments for toe pain and injuries vary and may include shoe inserts, padding, taping, medicines, injections, and in some cases, surgery. If you believe that you have broken a toe, please see a podiatrist as soon as possible.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact one of our offices located in Willoughby Hills and Broadview Heights, OH . We offer the newest diagnostic tools and technology to treat your foot and ankle needs.

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