The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Toe Pain Is A Common Complaint In The Podiatrist’s Office: What Are the Causes?

Posted by on Thursday, October 10th, 2013


Nearly every week, someone comes into The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine with a hurting toe. “Toe pain can be from a variety of causes,” says Dr. Nadia Levy, “so it’s best to get a consultation and professional advice before the problem worsens. Unfortunately, most of the cases we end up seeing have already progressed past the point of conservative treatments.” Learn more about the causes of toe pain and catch trouble in time to avoid long recoveries!

painful toe
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What Causes Toe Pain?

“It’s incredible how complex such a seemingly small thing as a toe can be, and all the problems that can arise from our little piggies!” says foot specialist Dr. Ryan Minara. According to the podiatrist, common causes for toe pain include:

  • Nail problems – ingrown toenails, nail fungus, blood & bruising underneath the nail
  • Structural issues – hammertoes, bunions, ligamentous injury, capsular weakening
  • Medical issues – arthritis, gout, peripheral artery disease, infection
  • Skin issues – foot fungus, corns, blisters
  • Trauma – fractures, ligament tears, tendon tears

Dr. Katherine Lai says she sees a lot of patients who think their toe has been seriously injured only to find out that the pain is coming from another part of the body entirely. “Sometimes pain in the toe can be coming from a pinched nerve in the ball of the foot that sends sharp pains into the toes,” she explains.

neuroma toe
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Toe Health Checklist

Here are a couple questions to ask yourself:

  • Are my toenails clear with white ridges? Abnormal coloring that is yellow or cloudy can indicate serious issues like heart conditions, diabetes,  kidney, lung, or liver disease — not to mention, toenail fungus.
  • Are my nails growing straight up and out? Sometimes the corner of a toenail (one that is cropped too short or injured) can catch the soft tissue and start growing back into the body. Nails should be cut straight across.
  • Is your toenail black, blue, or spotted? Discoloration is a surefire sign of infection, bleeding underneath, or a medical issue. Spots that don’t move along with regular toenail growth indicate a problem with the tissue, below the surface.
ingrown toenail
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When To See A Doctor

“Toes can cause a lot of grief,” says Dr. Minara. “Some issues may be a quick fix, while others — like painful hammer toes — may require surgical intervention. Don’t take your toes for granted, and see a podiatrist for toe problems even if they may seem small.”


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.