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Pinky Toe Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

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Have you ever felt an unbearable pain in your little toe on the outer side of your foot? That pain could be a result of Pinky Toe Pain or 5th Metatarsal pain. Your Pinky Toe plays a vital role in assisting with balance and proprioception, but being on the edge of your foot makes it more prone to injury.

In this article, we will discuss the various conditions that cause Pinky Toe pain, how to diagnose and treat it effectively.

Conditions That Cause Pinky Toe Pain

Pinky Toe Fracture

A Pinky Toe Fracture, also known as a 5th Metatarsal fracture, is a common type of foot fracture. Repetitive stress from impact activities can cause a 5th Metatarsal Stress Fracture or a sudden ankle sprain can result in an avulsion fracture where the tendon pulls off a fragment of bone from the Pinky toe.

Symptoms of a Pinky Toe Fracture include pain, swelling, and bruising on the 5th Metatarsal.

There may be pain on weight-bearing that improves with non-weight bearing. A thorough examination by a doctor and diagnostic imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI, may be necessary to determine the extent of the injury.

Tailor’s Bunion

A Tailor’s Bunion, also known as a Bunionette, is the result of the little toe deviating towards the big toe, causing a visible bump on the outside of the foot. The term "Tailor’s Bunion" was coined from tailors sitting with their legs crossed, which caused the little toe to turn inward.

This condition can be caused by wearing tight-fitting shoes, flat feet, or poor walking mechanics.

Symptoms of a Tailor’s Bunion include pain on the Pinky Toe when walking or running, which worsens when wearing tight-fitting shoes or high heels. There can be a visible change in the position of the little toe, with it turning inward. Treatment options for Tailor's Bunion include padding, custom orthotics, and surgery in severe cases.

Sprained Pinky Toe

A Sprain of the Pinky Toe occurs when the little toe is hyperextended. If this occurs in the big toe, it is known as Turf Toe. A Little toe sprain can happen if the toe gets caught in something and gets pulled upward, often when barefoot or in flip-flops.

Symptoms of a Sprained Pinky Toe include pain and redness around the joint, with increased pain on hyperextension of the toe. Treatment typically includes taping, rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories, while a stiff shoe can be helpful.

Corns on the Pinky Toe

A corn is a small area of harder skin that grows inward like a cone, causing pain when pressure is applied to the area. A corn can develop on the Pinky Toe if excess pressure is being placed on the toe over a long period of time.

Common causes of corns on the little toe include wearing tight-fitting shoes or high heels, resulting in the toes rubbing against each other and forming a corn. Symptoms of corns include pain on applying pressure to the corn and pain when walking.

Treatment for a corn can be carried out at home with regular use of a pummel stone. If this is unsuccessful, a podiatrist can remove the corn for you.

Diagnosing Pinky Toe Pain

If you are experiencing Pinky Toe pain, it is essential to seek medical attention to determine the cause of the pain. Your doctor will examine your foot and may order diagnostic imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI, to determine the extent of the injury.

In some cases, your doctor may ask about your medical history and lifestyle, such as your occupation or the type of shoes you wear, to determine the cause of the pain. A comprehensive examination and diagnostic testing will help your doctor to diagnose the condition correctly and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Treating Pinky Toe Pain

Treatment options for Pinky Toe pain depend on the underlying cause of the pain. In general, treatment options may include:

  • Rest: Avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain and allowing time for the injury to heal.
  • Ice: Applying ice to the affected area for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Compression: Wrapping the affected area with an elastic bandage can help reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: Keeping the affected foot elevated can help reduce swelling.
  • Pain relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Footwear: Wearing supportive and comfortable shoes that fit properly can help alleviate pain and prevent future injury.
  • Physical therapy: Stretching and strengthening exercises can help improve range of motion and reduce the risk of future injury.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair a fracture or correct a deformity.

Your doctor will recommend the most appropriate treatment based on your condition and the extent of your injury.

Prevention of Pinky Toe Pain

Taking steps to prevent Pinky Toe Pain is essential to avoid future injury. Here are some tips to prevent Pinky Toe Pain:

  • Wear shoes that fit properly and provide adequate support and cushioning for your feet.
  • Avoid wearing high heels and tight-fitting shoes that can put excess pressure on your toes.
  • Wear shoes appropriate for the activity you are participating in.
  • Warm up before exercising or participating in sports to reduce the risk of injury.
  • Strengthen your feet and legs through stretching and strengthening exercises.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to reduce stress on your feet.

By following these tips, you can reduce the risk of Pinky Toe Pain and other foot injuries.


Pinky Toe Pain is a common condition that can be caused by various conditions, such as fractures, sprains, and corns. If you are experiencing Pinky Toe Pain, seek medical attention to determine the cause and receive the appropriate treatment.

Treatment options for Pinky Toe Pain depend on the underlying condition and may include rest, ice, compression, pain relief, footwear, physical therapy, or surgery. Taking steps to prevent Pinky Toe Pain is essential to avoid future injury. By following these tips, you can reduce the risk of Pinky Toe Pain and other foot injuries.

Wynne Lee, MD

Dr. Wynne Lee is a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), where she provides primary care.

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