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Big Toe Pain

Updated on January 26, 2017
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I am not a health professional. However, from time to time I stumble upon things in my own experience that might be helpful to others.

Oh No, My Big Toe! Ouch!


Oh no, my big toe!

I began to notice pain in both my big toes in the evening. It seemed odd but it was not that debilitating. As time went on, maybe a matter of weeks, the pain was intensifying. It got so bad that I would have to take my shoes off and that gave little relief.

The worst was when I got into bed, the toe would not only hurt but tingle. This I reasoned was because all other senses were turned off in the quiet dark and I became more aware of the sensation. It started to keep me up. At times I would get up and put a cold wash cloth on it, which helped a little. I even resorted to getting in the shower and spraying cold water on my feet with the hand held shower.

Soon, I found I was taking my shoes off earlier and earlier and putting my feet up with ice packs on my toes.

I know that toe pain is often caused by gout, but from what I knew of gout, this was not it. My understanding is gout pain would be continuous, not something that came on at night and was gone by morning.

Indeed, many of my family members have had gout. We were sitting around one evening and everyone was discussing how excruciating the pain was from their gout attack. My family was in disbelief that I had never had an attack "you mean to tell me you have never had gout". My smarty pants answer was "I didn't know I was supposed to." Thus, I had gained a somewhat of a gout education and what I was suffering from did not seem the same.

Several times I resorted to using a magnifying glass to see if I could spot something. I thought I might have picked up a toe fungus at the nail salon. Nothing was obvious, even when magnified.

Eventually, it got so bad I decided to seek medical help.

Off I Went To My Primary Care Doctor

Well my primary care doctor looked at my right toe, because on that day and time only the right toe hurt. She concluded that it was not an ingrown toenail, nor was it gout, but could be infected. She prescribed antibiotics.

I was skeptical, as she was zeroing in on one toe only, and every night both big toes hurt. But I was still thinking I could have picked up something at the nail salon and if that were true the antibiotics would clear up any infection present in both big toes.

Well I was finished with my antibiotics and still nothing changed. The pain remained.

Time For A Specialist - A Podiatrist

By now, I am really hurting. I make an appointment with a nearby podiatrist. I tell her my problem and she, without looking at my feet says: "Your shoes are too small."

I was taken aback by this as I was wearing mules (backless shoes) with a big wide toe box. To me this quick comment would have been appropriate if I was wearing point toed enclosed shoes. So I tell her that my shoes feel plenty wide and they don't pinch at all.

She shakes her and and says, "maybe, but they are hard".

Then she asks when the last time was that I had my feet measured for shoes. I had to think about it. But then sheepishly said "when I was eleven years old, maybe."

She told me our feet change as we get older. We should get our feet measured every year. And that I should get my feet measured and buy larger and softer shoes.

A friend said: "You're an intelligent woman and you mean to tell me you couldn't tell your shoes were too tight".

The answer is: "No". It was not as obvious as shoes that pinch. My shoes felt comfortable as they were open in back.

My Problem Could Be Linked To Too Small Shoes

When was the last time you got your feet measured?

See results

Off To The Shoe Store

Well it occurred to me that I had for years gone to primarily self service shoe shops. On those rare occasions when I went to a sit down shoe store, with actual sales people, I would tell them what size I wore. Then they would dutifully bring out shoes in that size and I would either find them comfortable or ask for the next larger or smaller size.

This time I went to an actual shoe store. I told the associate that I would like my foot measured and she obliged. She said I was right on the line between a 9-1/2 and a 10 so I should get a 10. I picked out a pair of soft (like a faux doe skin) lace up shoe and took them home.

Yes, in less than a week my toe pain went away.


I was skeptical but relief was in larger softer shoes.

To Sum It Up

If you are suffering from similar unexplained toe pain, you might want to check out your shoe size. Look to see if most of your shoes are hard topped, as were mine.

Let's hear from you. Have you had a similar experience?

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