Sharp and Shooting Pain in the Little Toe

Sharp and shooting pain in the little toe is usually the result of nerve irritation in that area. Nerve irritation can be caused by anything that can cause swelling in the toe. Usually the most common cause is compression of the little toe in your shoes.





Sharp Shooting Pain in the Little Toe Symptoms:


  • The most common symptoms are : numbness, burning, tingling throbbing.
  • For some people this could be most painful at night, or when the resting on the couch watching TV.
  • The reason you feel it most at this time is because of the damage you’ve done during the day walking, and your brain has time to focus on the symptoms while you’re resting.
  • It does not mean that you’re doing anything wrong while resting.
  • For some people the fifth toe could be in significant pain while standing or walking. This can mean that you’re having rubbing at that time during the day while standing.
  • Symptoms like sharpshooting burning tingling in throbbing, can mean that your nerve is being irritated.
  • It can also be possible to feel symptoms like deep aching throb, or soreness that gets worse as you continue standing or walking. This means you have more of a biomechanical irritation.



Sharp and shooting pain in the little toes can be due to red and swollen toes, or they might even look completely normal.



Causes of Sharp Pain in the Pinky Toe:


  • Twenty-five percent of the bones in the body are located in the feet, and over 50% of those bones are in the toes.
  • The toes are important; they help you move and stay balanced.
  • Many things can cause damage to the toes with the repercussions of sharp and shooting pain. However, if you have sharp and shooting pain in the little toe that is unexplained and not due to an actual perceived injury, it is most likely the result of irritated or sore nerves.
  • Sharp and shooting pain in the little toe is usually the result of nerve irritation in that area. This differs from muscle and joint pain which is usually aching, pulsating and throbbing. Luckily, the causes are usually the same in both, these pains usually develop as a result of compression or entrapment of the little nerves in the skin due to shoe tightness or pressure.


Generic Causes:


  • Tight shoes.
  • Foot swelling in shoes.
  • Poor biomechanics.
  • Not wearing good orthotics.
  • Tight Calves.
  • Obesity.
  • Having to stand all day long, or having to work all day long.
  • Lack of stretching.



If you have swollen toes, this can definitely lead to night time or late night sharp, shooting pain in your little toes.



The Long Explanation to Understand the Causes:


  • The most common cause is flattening of the foot as you put all your weight on it.
  • As your foot is turned out and flattened, it compresses your fifth toe against the edge of your shoe.
  • You can try this for yourself at home, simply look at your feet as you march up and down while barefoot and then stop and stand.
  • With all your weight on your feet will flatten out your toes will spread out sideways (away from your big toe). Your foot will bend outward the more you lean forward and the more pressure you put onto the front of your foot.
  • Now imagine that this is happening inside your shoe, what is occurring is that your fifth toe is a rubbing and buckling into the outside of your shoe. We see this a lot when people are running, the fifth toe jams and rubs into the outside of the shoe.
  • If you can understand this concept, you can understand why you need more support inside your shoe and this will actually turn your foot inward and permit your fifth toe for a broom bringing in fields that your shoe.
  • There have been instances where people who are on their feet all day at work, simply put on a simple over-the-counter orthotic in there for toe pain goes away almost immediately.
  • You can try this for yourself at home, try a pair of supportive shoes and see if your pinky toe pain gets better.


Sharp and Shooting Pain in the Little Toe
The fifth toe or pinky toe is a common sight of pain. This usually occurs due to compression against the side of your shoes.



What Causes Sharp Shooting Pain in the rest of the small toes?


  • This pain is caused by nerve compression and entrapment.
  • In your little toe you have the distal extensions of the rural nerve on the outside of the toe which is very prone to being compressed by the outside edge of your shoe; this nerve compression that leads to nerve injury is called neuropraxia.
  • The causes of this are very similar to the causes of the fifth toe or the Pinky toe. It’s all about how much your foot compresses and flattens in the front of your shoe. Your foot gets crushed and eventually after a full day of standing is in a severe amount of pain and swelling. This swelling eventually adds up over the days, months or years and your foot says enough.
  • This leads to fancy symptoms like sharpshooting pain, and you can barely stand on your foot. This is simply your nerves letting you know that you are an extensive amount of pain in your body doesn’t want to take it anymore.
  • This leads to irritation of the nerve and swelling around that area, as the swelling starts to get worse the nerve pain continues to get even worse.



Little Toe Pain Home Treatment Guide:

Consider these treatment options for your 5th toe pain:

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  • Our goal in advance foot and ankle specialist is to get you better without any type of medications or surgery. For pain in the fifth toe we can do this almost all the time, very rarely does your fist still need any type of surgery.
  • It is important to understand the cause, especially the flattening out of the front of your foot within your shoe when you stand, to understand how these treatments really do work.


Physical Exam:


The first thing we will do is evaluate the actual structure and shape of your toe. For example, is your toe crooked, bent, or show prior history of fracture?


  • Do you have any corns, calluses, warts or lesions on the fifth toe joint?
  • Do you have any bunions, hammer toes, flatfoot or high arched foot deformities?
  • How tight is your calf muscle, how tight is your ankle, do you have any other foot problems going on?
  • Do you have any back-pain knee pain hip pain or any other medical problems?
  • What kind of shoes orthotics are you wearing currently? How do you walk around at home, how much should he walk at work, do you run it all?
  • If you have any issues with these answers, it may lead to a simple fix of this problem. For example, some people show up with bad shoes, or bad callous on the fifth toe. Simply correcting these two things will make the pain go away very quickly.





  • It makes sense to get an x-ray of the foot on the first visit.
  • Sometimes we can see that you have a hammer toe, or a bone spur almost immediately. Some people have what’s called a bone exostosis. This bone exostosis could simply be shaved down.
  • Sometimes people have had a bone tumor growing at this site, I assessing this x-ray can make a huge difference in her treatment plan.
  • If there is something more invasive going on, we can perform an ultrasound with an office to make sure everything is okay.
  • If we are still concerned following the ultrasound, sometimes it makes sense to get an MRI performed in the hospital. Although this would be an extremely rare occurrence for the fifth toe joint.



Lab Tests:


  • For fifth toe problems, unless we suspect an infection, it is very rare to get any type of lab testing done.




  • Medications that make sense in this circumstance are topical anti-inflammatory gels, such as a voltaren or Biofreeze.
  • Oral medications that we might choose our ibuprofen or aspirin.


Biomechanical Correction:


  • This is the most important treatment plan that we can offer you.
  • The first thing we will do when you present your office is heavy stand, heavy walk around barefoot, happy walk around in your shoes.
  • We will then bring in over-the-counter insert and make modifications based on what is going on with your or has flatfoot or a high arched foot. Most also then have things like bunions hammer toes.
  • Certain specific modifications to the orthotic shell can be tested immediately.
  • Almost all patients achieve significant belief with these over-the-counter inserts almost immediately. The idea is to do a low cost to pay hundreds of dollars for. The cost for one of these orthotics is $30. It is simply the right pads and modifications that make all the difference, but they have to be in the right spot.
  • Within a few weeks your pain, And you can feel comfortable that it will stay away.


Treatment of Sharp and Shooting Pain in the Little Toe at Home:


If these treatments still do not help above, consider focusing on anti-inflammatory treatment initially, then  see you podiatrist ASAP!


The best way to take care of this problem is by first decreasing the inflammation in this area and prevent the irritation on the nerve. You must ice the area and take some anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen as directed by your podiatrist or pharmacist until this condition starts to get better.


Important: It takes the nerve at least 10-20 days for the nerve injury (neuropraxia) to start getting better.

Sharp shooting pain in your small toes can even occur if the toes look normal, this might mean you have a metabolic disease leading to something called peripheral neuropathy.


If there is anything else going on with your toe like a 5th toe bunion, a 5th toe hammer toe or 5th toe swelling, following this treatment guide on 5th toe problems. The following link will provide a treatment guide based on what is causing your pain. This guide will help you both diagnose and treat your problem!


Complete Treatment Guide for you Little 5th Toe Pain


Other Causes of Pain on the Outside of the Foot:


Although nerve entrapment is the most common cause of neuropraxia (sharp and shooting pain in the little toe), there are many other causes to this problem. Bunions, corns, calluses, hammer-toes, ingrown nails, and swelling of the toes can cause this uncomfortable sharp and shooting pain.


The video below outlines the common causes of pain on the outside of the foot, which includes the little toe pain, as well as possible safe and inexpensive home treatments.



Conditions that can cause Sharp and Shooting Pain in the little toe:


1. Skin Problems:


  • Calluses: Calluses are thick patches of skin that appear in sites of friction against the shoe, the floor or any other part of the foot. The danger is that a blister can form underneath the callus! Click on this page for more information!
  • Corns: A corn looks like a little pebble that can form, they usually even occur with a callus around them. This can be exceptionally painful. Click on the page for more information! 
  • Ingrown Toenails: Follow our at home pain relief guides, how to trim your nails properly and even how to remove them permanently.
  • Swollen Painful Toe: These occur from stubbing your toe, so learn how to deal with them properly! Is it broken or is it just bruised, find out with this guide.


2. Bone and Joint Problems:




3. Muscle & Tendon Pain:



Other causes of Pain in the Small Toes:


Most Likely:


Ball of the foot:



5th Toe



More on the Pinky Toe:


Consider these treatment options for you 5th toe pain:

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