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How do I Treat Foot and Toe Pain?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 17, 2024
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Foot and toe pain may be cured with simple remedies such as an ice pack or a foot soak. You may be engaged in activities that are straining your joints or muscles and you may experience relief if you get protective gear and professional advice. It is also possible that your choice of shoes is the cause of the problem and you simply need to invest in new footwear.

How you will treat foot and toe pain generally depends on the cause of the problem. For example, if the pain comes from a minor injury, such as making a misstep, there are several things you can do for relief. To begin with, you should apply ice. After you have done this, elevate your legs. To help ease the pain quicker, you may also want to consider taking ibuprofen.

Soaking the feet in Epsom salt is one way to treat foot and toe pain, especially if the problem is caused by inflammation such as that associated with arthritis. The relief is generally attributed to the high magnesium content. Simply adding the Epsom salt to warm water and submerging the feet for at least 15 minutes can reduce swelling and help eliminate excessive fluid.

If you are not exactly sure what is causing the foot and toe pain, you may want to closely analyze the area. When the pain appears to stem from the toenail area, there are two things you should look for. First, check your toenails to make sure they are not improperly growing down into the surrounding tissue. If they are, your toenail is likely to be ingrown and you need to stop cutting it to provide a chance for it to grow out properly. This problem may require medical assistance.

Second, check the condition of your toenails and the skin on your foot. Look for signs of discoloration, such as a yellow or brown tinge, and look for abnormal growth around the toenail or on other areas of the foot. Also, check to see if your feet are developing a foul odor. If you notice any of these symptoms, you may have a fungal infection, which can be painful and lasting. You may be able to solve this problem with over-the-counter medications, but these types of infections are often stubborn and require a prescription.

Foot and toe pain with an unidentified cause can result from overexertion or improper technique when you engage in certain activities. If you believe this could be the problem, you need to stop engaging in those activities. Before you resume, you may want to contact a fitness or sports trainer and your physician. You may also want to consider if you should be using supportive gear. Otherwise, there is a chance that you could convert minor pain into an injury.

You should also realize how much shoes can contribute to foot and toe pain. Some people squeeze their feet into shoes that are too narrow or too short because of limited sizes in a particular style or because they think their correct size makes their feet look bad. Other people, although choosing the appropriate size, tend to choose poorly made shoes that lack proper support or that place the foot in unnatural positions. If you have developed either of these habits, you need to abandon them immediately and invest in some quality shoes of the appropriate size.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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