Why does my second toe hurt? | BY HEIDI

Why does my second toe hurt? | BY HEIDI


    Pain in a person’s second toe can be due to injury. However, various health conditions can also cause a person to have pain in their second toe.

    A person has 28 bones in their feet, 14 of which are in the toes. The bones of the feet work together with muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments to:

    provide support

    help with balance

    help a person walk

    When a person has pain in their second toe, they may find walking painful or difficult. This article will look into the various causes of second toe pain, as well as treatments and when to talk with a doctor.

    Sprains and fractures

    A sprain or fracture may cause pain in the second toe.

    A toe fracture is when a person breaks a bone in their toe. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, toe fractures are a common injury.

    Traumatic fracture

    A traumatic fracture, or acute fracture, occurs due to a direct blow or impact to the area. A traumatic fracture on the second toe may be caused by dropping something heavy on it or if a person accidentally kicks something hard.

    Traumatic fractures can be displaced or non-displaced. A displaced fracture means that the end of the broken bone has moved from where it should be. A non-displaced fracture means that the bone is cracked but still in alignment.

    Symptoms of traumatic fracture include:

    an audible popping or cracking noise during the injury

    pain at the location of the fracture at the time of injury, which may last several hours and then go away

    crooked or abnormal toe shape

    bruising or swelling the day after the injury

    A person who has experienced trauma to the foot should seek an examination from a doctor, as they may require an X-ray. Most toe fractures do not require surgery, but a small number may, particularly if there is a joint dislocation or deformity.


    A sprain is an injury that affects a ligament. A ligament is a type of connective tissue that connects two or moreTrusted Source bones on a joint. If a person has a sprained toe, one or more of the toe ligaments have been stretched or torn. A sprain may be caused by:


    the toe becoming twisted

    overextending the toe, which means it is bent or stretched beyond its normal range

    Symptoms of a sprain on the second toe include:




    not being able to use the toe


    If a person thinks they have broken or sprained their toe, they should speak with a doctor. A doctor can recommend the most suitable treatment for their injury.

    Treatments for fractures and sprains include:



    splinting, which is where the toe is strapped in place

    a rigid or stiff-soled shoe

    buddy taping, which is where the fractured toe is taped to the toe beside it




    putting an ice pack on the area for 20 minutes 4 to 8 times a day

    compressing the injury with bandages

    raising the foot on a pillow

    anti-inflammatory pain medications, such as ibuprofen


    Capsulitis is a condition that that causes inflammation in the ligaments surrounding the joint at the base of a toe. These ligaments help the joint function properly.

    Capsulitis can develop in the third and fourth toes, but it is most common in the second toe.

    Capsulitis occurs when the ball of a person’s foot experiences excessive pressure. This may be caused by:

    a severe bunion deformity

    having a longer second toe than big toe

    an unstable arch

    a tight calf muscle

    Symptoms of capsulitis can include:

    pain, particularly in the ball of the foot


    swelling, including at the base of the second toe

    difficulty wearing shoes

    pain when walking barefoot

    A person with capsulitis may also feel as if there is something in their shoe, such as a stone or a marble.


    Many conservative treatments can relieve capsulitis, including:

    resting and applying ice

    splinting or taping

    taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

    doing stretches recommended by a doctor

    wearing supportive shoes with stiff soles

    using orthotic devices, such as arch supports

    Without treatment, capsulitis can cause the inflamed ligaments to weaken. This can lead to the second toe crossing over the top of the big toe, which is called crossover toe. Additionally, capsulitis can result in the toe becoming dislocated.

    If a person develops crossover toe, they may need surgery to correct it. In cases of crossover, dislocation, and subluxation, the toes can rub against the shoes. The friction this causes may lead to corns, which may lead to breaks in the skin and infection.

    Morton’s neuroma

    Morton’s neuroma is the inflammation of the nerves between a person’s toes caused by thickened tissues surrounding the nerve. It is caused by the collapse of surrounding structures in the foot. This leads to increased traction on the nerve.

    Morton’s neuroma usually occurs in the nerve between the third and fourth toes. However, Morton’s neuroma can also occurTrusted Source between the second and third toes.

    Morton’s neuroma is a result of the compression or irritation of the nerve. A common cause of Morton’s neuroma is wearing shoes that have a pointed toe box. High heels that force the toes into the toe box can also lead to Morton’s neuroma.

    Other causes include:

    running or court sports

    certain foot abnormalities


    Symptoms of Morton’s neuroma include:





    a feeling of something being in the shoe

    a feeling of something inside the ball of the foot


    Treatment for Morton’s neuroma can include:

    arch support

    icing the area

    orthotic devices

    stopping activities that put pressure on the neuroma

    wearing shoes with a wide toe box


    injections of cortisone or local anesthetics

    surgery, if resistant to other treatments

    Ingrown toenail

    An ingrown toenail occurs when a person’s nail curves and grows into their skin. Ingrown toenails usually affect the skin at the sides of the nail. Ingrown toenails can be a result of:

    improper trimming

    inherited causes


    improperly sized shoes

    nail problems

    Ingrown toenails can cause:





    Ingrown toenails can also lead to a person developing an infection in their toe.


    If a person has an ingrown toenail, they should see a doctor if they have:



    nerve damage in the foot

    poor circulation

    A doctor can then treat them using antibiotics or a minor surgery.

    A person without infection, or a high risk medical condition, may treat their ingrown toenail at home. Home treatment for an ingrown toenail involves soaking the toe in warm water and massaging the nail fold.


    Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes pain in the ball of a person’s foot. Metatarsalgia generally affects the heads of a person’s second and third metatarsals. The metatarsals are long bones that connect a person’s toes to their ankles. The head of the metatarsals make up the ball of the foot.

    Metatarsalgia may be caused by:

    foot abnormalities



    high heels

    standing work


    Metatarsalgia can be treated by:

    metatarsal pad insoles

    shoe wear modification

    physical therapy



    Freiberg’s disease

    Freiberg’s disease is a rare condition that generally affects a person’s second or third metatarsal. It is caused by avascular necrosis or osteonecrosis, which is when loss of blood supply leads to bones not receiving enough nourishment.

    Freiberg’s disease causes the death of bone tissue due to a lack of blood.

    The exact cause of Freiberg’s disease is currently unknown. However, experts believe it is due to a combination of certain genes and environmental factors.

    Symptoms of Freiberg’s disease include:



    a limp


    a limited range of motion


    the sensation of walking on something hard, such as a marble


    Treatment for Freiberg’s disease can depend on certain factors, such as a person’s age or its severity. Treatment can include:


    modification of activities

    crutches, casts, or shoe inserts



    Plantar plate injury

    The plantar plate is a thick ligament that attaches the metatarsals to the first bone of the toes. Damage to the plantar plate can lead to a person developing conditions such as:

    synovitis, which is where the connective tissue of a joint becomes swollen

    toe displacement

    subluxation, which is partial dislocation of a joint


    hammertoe, which is when a person’s toe curls downward with the middle joint pointing upward


    crossover toes

    supination, which is where a person’s foot rolls outward when they walk



    stiff-soled shoes

    gradual weight bearing

    rehabilitation exercises


    Other conditions

    Occasionally, other health issues can indirectly or directly cause second toe pain, such as:

    Blisters. Ill-fitting footwear can cause blisters, a potential source of the pain.

    Arthritis. This can develop throughout the body and cause second toe pain.

    Diabetes. People with diabetes should check their feet regularly for sores and wounds, which can cause toe pain.

    Home remedies

    A person can often relieve toe pain from blisters or minor injuries by trying:

    Rest, ice, and elevation. Wrapping an ice pack in a towel and applying it to the injury for 20 minutes at a time can help reduce swelling and pain.

    Medication. NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

    Orthotics. Special insoles or supports can help alleviate second toe pain. These work by correcting any imbalances in the foot.

    When to see a doctor

    If home treatments do not cure a person’s toe pain, they should speak with a doctor. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons recommends a person see a doctor if they have:

    an injury

    reduced mobility during certain activities

    discomfort when standing

    an abnormal growth

    changes in the appearance of the foot

    It is important to note that people should not soak their feet in water that is too hot. People with neuropathy can develop severe burns, as they are not able to sense the heat. Soaking the feet in water that is too hot can lead to severe scalding or burning, so people should only use warm water.

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