painful big toeIf you're like most people, eventually you're going to end up with a big toe that's killing you.  Whether it's an injury from exercise, a bump in the middle of the night, or a chronic condition you've developed, having pain in your big toe can prevent you from enjoying your usual activities. At the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City we've treated thousands of patients just like you. We'll identify the cause, treat you, and get you back to doing what you love.

Here are 7 reasons your big toe is killing you.

1. Stubbed Toe

One of the most common conditions I see in the office is a stubbed toe. You get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and you accidentally slam your big toe into your dresser. Yikes!

You are not alone. We've all done it.  Although seeking medical attention for something as common as a stubbed toe may seem strange, it's best to come in to be sure the toe isn't fractured or infected if swelling or bleeding occurs.

2. Ingrown Toenail

An ingrown toenail is another extremely common cause of big toe pain. Family history, trauma, short shoes, and improperly cut toenails can all lead to an ingrown big toenail. Fortunately surgery can be done right in the podiatry office. Most patients feel little pain and can start their usual activities the next day. Our office sees a lot of kids with ingrown toenails. To help prevent it, make sure your kids aren't outgrowing their shoes. Adults need to make sure to cut their toenails straight across only. Learn more about ingrown toenails here.

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3. Turf Toe

Turf toe most often occurs in athletes. It's very common in football kickers but can occur in any game where players jam their toe or repeatedly push off during running and jumping. The term was originally coined with sports played on artificial turf; the harder artificial surface makes cleats more likely to stick. However, turf toe can also occur on grass surfaces, particularly when the shoe worn is not supportive.

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tennis toe or runner's toe4. Tennis toe or Runner's toe

Tennis has its own specific toe injury caused by the fast changes in direction and the toe pushing against the toe box. Damage can result in the area underneath the toenail. It often gets worse with time.

Another name for tennis toe is runner's toe. Runners can also easily damage their big toenails if their shoes are too short or if their foot slides forward in their shoe.

Preventing these injuries is very straightforward. If you play tennis or run, keep your toenails short and wear shoes that fit. In addition, as a runner, you can take advantage of the extra eyelet on the top of your shoe if your feet tend to slide forward. You can use a heel lock to more tightly secure your feet in your shoes.

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5. Sesamoiditis

This is an overuse injury involving chronic inflammation of the sesamoid bones and the tendons involved with those bones. The sesamoids are two pea-shaped bones located in the ball of the foot, beneath the big toe joint. Sesamoiditis is caused by increased pressure to the sesamoids frequently seen in ballet dancers, runners, and baseball catchers. People with high arches who wear high heels are also at risk.

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6. Hallux limitus and rigidus

Hallux stands for big toe. You might guess from the names that limitus means "limited movement" and rigidus means "a rigid, inflexible toe". Both of these conditions can be quite painful since we use our big toes for all of our mobile activities.

Usually a person with this condition starts out with hallux limitus which can progress  to hallux rigidus. Both are forms of degenerative arthritis and can be inherited but can also develop from trauma to the big toe. Early treatment is important to prevent it from getting to the rigid stage. Wearing orthotics, anti-inflammatory treatments, and rocker bottom shoes are all effective treatments.

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7. Gout

Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid (a normal byproduct of the diet) in the joints. The big toe joint is most commonly affected, very likely from the pressure during walking and because uric acid crystals build up in the coolest part of the body. Attacks of gout are extremely painful and can be triggered by diets high in purines such as those found in red meat, organ meats like liver and kidney, shellfish, red wine and beer. Avoiding these foods and certain medications and drinking plenty of water are the best ways to avoid this condition.


Need Relief from A Painful Big Toe in Seattle, Washington? Request an Appointment Now

Don't let a painful big toe cause you to miss out on the activities you enjoy. Complete the contact form on this page or call our office, the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City, at 206-368-7000 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rion Berg.

Most new patients are seen within 1-2 week's time. During your initial visit, Dr. Berg will spend up to 30 minutes getting to know you, your podiatry complaints, and your goals so that he can recommend the treatment best meets your needs. Don’t wait—contact us today.

North Seattle Foot & Ankle Specialist Dr. Rion Berg offers compassionate podiatry care for all foot and ankle problems to those living in Seattle Washington and the surrounding areas. Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an immediate appointment or request an appointment online.



Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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