Here we explain the common injuries which cause sudden, or gradual onset toe pain.
Medically reviewed by Dr Chaminda Goonetilleke, 20th Jan. 2022
Gradual onset or chronic toe pain
The following injuries cause gradual onset or chronic toe pain.
A black toenail or Subungual Hematoma is a common problem resulting either from direct trauma to the toe, or overuse. It is frequently known as ‘Jogger’s Toe’.
- Your toe will be painful and tender.
- The nail appears black.
- This is because blood settles between the nail and the skin increasing pressure.
- More on Black toenail
An ingrown toenail is also known as onychocryptosis. It is a common and frustrating cause of toe pain.
- It is often caused by improper footwear or poor nail cutting.
- Pain and redness around the side of the toenail are the main symptoms.
- More on Ingrown toenail
Hallux Rigidus is a stiff & painful big toe, specifically at the base of the joint. Symptoms also include:
- Pain, swelling, and inflammation in the joint at the base of the big toe.
- Hallux is Latin for ‘big toe’ or ‘great toe’ and yes, you can guess that rigidus simply means rigid or stiff.
- Hallux Rigidus can be caused either by a direct impact or from overuse.
- More on Hallux rigidus
Hammer toe is a condition which causes one or more of the smaller toes to become bent upwards.
- It is often caused by wearing shoes that are too small the toes are pushed into a shortened position.
- As a result, they bend upwards.
- A corn or callus may develop at the top of the toe and the joint may feel painful.
- More on Hammer toe
Sudden onset toe injuries
The following are causes of toe pain which occur suddenly. This may be a result of direct trauma and you will know exactly when your injury occurred.
Toe fractures can be very painful and usually occur as a result of severe impact or trauma such as stubbing your toe, or being stamped on. Symptoms include
- Pain is felt instantly at the time of injury.
- Rapid swelling.
- Bruising may develop, especially if there is associated soft tissue injury.
- In severe fractures, your toe may look deformed.
- Often with fractures of the smaller toes, you may not even be aware you have a fracture.
- More on Toe fractures
Turf toe occurs after a very vigorous upward bending of the big toe. As a result, ligaments are under the base of the toe sprain (stretch or tear). Symptoms consist of:
- Big toe pain in the MTP joint at the base of the toe.
- More on Turf Toe
Dislocated toes are normally caused by direct trauma to the toe. This can sprain the toe ligament and displace the phalanges bones in the toe.
- Severe pain will appear at the time of impact and can be reproduced by trying to bend the toe.
- Seeing a doctor is recommended to ensure the bone heals properly.
- More on Dislocated toe
A black toenail or Subungual Hematoma is a common problem resulting from direct trauma to the toe or overuse. It is frequently known as ‘Jogger’s Toe’.
The toenail turns black because blood settles between the nail and the skin increasing pressure, and resulting in pain.
- More on Black toenail
Rehabilitation & exercises
References & further reading
- McCormick JJ, Anderson RB. Rehabilitation following turf toe injury and plantar plate repair. Clin Sports Med 2010;29:313–23.