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The best treatments for toe pain generally depend on what caused the pain. Many types of toe pain can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers and heat or ice to reduce swelling. If a person has a toe infection, antibiotics might be necessary. There are other toe problems, such as bunions, that might require surgery to correct. Some people also have problems such as gout or arthritis that may affect not only the toe, but also other areas within the body; these problems may require prescription medication for treatment.
A person who has a toe-related injury, such as from a broken or stubbed toe, might be able to take care of his pain at home using pain relieving medication. If over-the-counter pain medicine is not strong enough to take care of the pain, and the injured toe begins to swell up and change colors, a doctor's visit will probably be necessary. A doctor can perform an X-ray to determine the extent of the toe damage and treat the area accordingly. He will probably prescribe stronger pain medicine for pain management while the toe heals.
Some people occasionally experience toe infections, which might be the result of either bacteria or fungi that has grown underneath their toenails. These infections tend to be very painful and may severely irritate the skin around the toenail. Most of the time, doctors treat toe infections using antibiotics. The type of antibiotic prescribed will likely depend on whether or not the infection is bacterial or fungal in nature.
Bunions are very hard, raised areas that often develop on or around the toe. These areas can be incredibly painful because they usually distort the natural outline of the foot, thereby making it difficult to wear shoes comfortably throughout the day. There are not many guaranteed ways to get rid of bunions other than surgical removal, but there are some things a person can do at home to limit his discomfort. Wearing shoes that do not rub against the side of a bunion is often recommended, as are the use of toe spacers and bunion pads. Foot soaks, heat pads, and ice packs may help relieve toe pain from bunions as well as from other foot problems.
Severe toe pain should usually be examined by a doctor, even if it is possible to deal with the pain at home, because the pain might be a result of a serious underlying medical condition. People who suffer from gout, for example, often experience pain in their big toes as a direct result of elevated uric acid levels inside their bodies. Gout typically begins with the big toe and spreads to other joints throughout the body, becoming more painful as it spreads. Another common toe pain culprit is arthritis. Pain from arthritis tends to come and go, but it is a problem that should be evaluated by a doctor because there are some prescription medicines that can keep discomfort to a minimum.