I believe that all of us have at least once in our lives bumped our little toe on the leg of a table or cabinet edge. The pain we feel then is beyond explanation, right? Sometimes it passes soon enough, but sometimes it just doesn’t. It’s true – in some instances, pinky toe pain can be long-lasting and severe.
I remember I always used to wonder, “How can something so small hurt so bad and cause so much trouble in my everyday life? It’s literally a pinky toe, a.k.a. the smallest toe on my foot. I don’t even need it, and yet I have it, on the edge of my foot, constantly seeking trouble and things to bump into.”
I soon realized I was very wrong. Even though the pinky toe is the smallest toe on our foot, it’s definitely not insignificant. It truly has its purpose and function.
All five toes on our foot work together in order to keep us stable and in balance, maintain the mechanism of our walking, and bear the weight of our body. The big toe is the most important of all the toes, followed by the long toe, middle toe, ring toe, and pinky toe.
Although this toe is not as important as the rest of the toes, and you can live a happy and healthy life without it, the pinky toe still serves a purpose as it works in sync with other toes in keeping balance and providing propulsion while walking.
And even though it’s the smallest, it can hurt just as bad as the big toe (if not more).
In this article, we will discuss what causes pinky toe pain, how each cause can be treated, and what shoes are considered to be the best to wear when you’re dealing with a painful pinky toe. Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
What can cause pinky toe pain?
1. It might be broken
Let’s be real: The pinky toe feels fractured each time it bumps into something. But if the pain is so severe, and it lasts for more than a day, that could be a sign that your pinky toe is actually broken. In that case, it’s best to see the doctor and get his professional opinion.
The pinky toe is made out of three phalanx bones, just like the long, the middle, and the ring toe. The fracture can occur when one of those bones (or all three) gets broken after a certain injury, either by a heavy object falling on it or by stubbing.
The doctor can determine with an x-ray whether you’re dealing with an acute fracture (meaning the trauma was sudden and you remember exactly when and how it happened) or a stress fracture (meaning you don’t recall a specific trauma as it happened gradually over time).
Some symptoms of a broken pinky toe include swelling, nail injury, numbness, and severe pain (especially when you’re wearing shoes).
Treatment: If the fracture isn’t too severe, the remedy includes taping the pinky toe to its adjacent toe as a way to ensure stability and protection during the healing period.
If the fracture is more serious, the doctor may recommend wearing a cast or a protective shoe.
2. It might be sprained
A pinky toe sprain occurs when the ligaments in the toe get overstretched. Generally speaking, ligaments are tough collagen strands and their main function is to attach one bone to the other.
Symptoms of a sprained pinky toe are bruising, swelling, numbness, and severe pain when the toe moves. This condition can be caused by the same traumatic events that cause the pinky toe fracture, and it can be divided into three sprain categories:
- Grade I sprain – minimal pain
- Grade II sprain – moderate pain and difficulty bearing body weight
- Grade III sprain – extremely severe pain; body weight bearing is impossible
Treatment: Grade I pinky toe sprains usually heal on their own. However, when it comes to Grade II and III sprains, the doctor may prescribe walking boots or even surgical repair in some cases.
3. Corns and calluses
Corns and calluses are terms used to describe the thick and hardened layers of skin that develop as “protection” against friction and constant pressure.
Corns and calluses on toes usually occur when the footwear is too narrow and tight for us and when there is consistent rubbing between the skin and the upper of the shoes.
Treatment: The best way to treat corns and calluses is to prevent them from forming by wearing appropriate footwear for your feet. The shoes you’re wearing have to fit you perfectly, without being too tight or too wide.
If, however, corns and calluses have already formed, the way to treat them is by using moleskin inside your shoe for cushioning. You can also use orthotic shoe inserts whose main purpose is to improve the fit of the shoes you’re wearing and distribute the weight evenly.
Many people, when they hear the term bunion, think about the one that forms on the big toe. But, can a bunion form on the pinky toe? Indeed, it can, and in this case, it’s called a tailor’s bunion.
This condition was, as you may have already guessed, named after tailors who are said to do their tailoring job sitting cross-legged, with the outer part of their pinky toe digging into the ground.
Tailor’s bunion is characterized by crookedness and protrusion of the joint between the pinky toe and its corresponding metatarsal bone. This condition is very painful, and it can be caused by wearing too-narrow shoes or overly high heels. It can also be inherited.
Treatment: One way to treat a tailor’s bunion is to ensure you’re wearing the right kind of shoe or using orthotic shoe inserts. In some cases, the doctor may suggest you get a corticosteroid injection, which can significantly reduce the inflammation, or even surgery, which is usually the last resort.
What are the best shoes to wear when dealing with pinky toe pain?
1. OrthoComfoot Men’s Ergonomic Shoes For Pain Relief
As the name suggests, OrthoComfoot is a brand that focuses on high-quality and comfortable footwear suitable for various foot conditions and pains.
These ones, in particular, are perfect for different foot conditions, including plantar fasciitis, flat feet, tailor’s bunion, and more. They are very stylish and can be worn with casual or even business casual wear. They are extremely lightweight and super versatile as they can be worn during various activities.
These low-cut shoes feature a canvas and suede upper and durable rubber outsoles. They also come with arch support insoles which aid in the even distribution of pressure, and a deep heel cup, ensuring the foot is in the right position while walking.
These shoes are available in four neutral colors, and they cost around $80 a pair.
2. Vionic Women’s Spark Caroll Classic Ballet Flats
A great option for women are these classic ballet flats by Vionic Shoes. These shoes have a wider toe box and great arch support that comes in the form of an orthotic insole.
These ballet flats are super comfy and supportive and perfect for flat feet, too. You have a choice of 7 pretty and mostly neutral colors and can expect to pay around $119.
3. Skechers USA Men’s Round Toe Lace Up Oxford
Skechers is the brand that somehow never seems to disappoint, right? So naturally, it also has a great shoe option for pinky toe pain.
One of the best features of these lace-up men’s Oxford shoes is the round, wide toe box that offers plenty of wiggle room for toes. The toes are never squashed, and movement is never restricted, which means these shoes are perfect for any kind of pinky toe pain, whether it be a sprain or a tailor’s bunion.
These Oxfords are made out of 100% leather, and they feature soles made out of air-cooled memory foam. The main purpose of these soles is to provide optimal cushioning and keep your feet cool.
They also provide great arch support (meaning they are good for men with flat feet) and help with the correct foot positioning.
These Oxfords come in four colors, mostly black and brown shades, and they cost around $100, which is pretty affordable for such an amazing pair of shoes!
4. Veittes Women’s Slip-On Knitted Breathable Flat Shoes
Here’s another comfy model for all our ladies out there.
These kitten slip-on flat shoes are extremely easy to get in and out of. They feature a wide toe box that provides much-needed toe freedom, and also EVA insoles, ensuring great comfort and cushioning.
These flats are also highly versatile. They can be easily paired with different outfits, from skirts and dresses, to jeans and shorts. Perfect for both dinner dates and grocery shopping!
They come in three neutral colors and sport a very affordable price tag of around $35.
5. HEYDUDE Dude Women’s Wendy Sox and Men’s Wally Funk Shoes
And lastly, if you’re looking for a stylish and comfortable pair of business-casual shoes to wear to work, HEYDUDE is the brand for you.
Both of these models – Wendy Sox and Wally Funk – are made out of high-quality and lightweight materials, and they are constructed to adapt to your foot perfectly. They come with a wider toe box, which is, as we’ve learned, a must when it comes to dealing with pinky toe pain.
They are comfortable, well-cushioned, flexible, and supportive. All in all, a perfect footwear option for both men and women.
HEYDUDE Wendy Sox comes in fifteen fun patterns and costs around $45 a pair, while Wally Funk has fifteen mostly neutral colors to choose from and costs around $60.