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Do Ingrown Toenails Cause Foot Pain?


So you currently have – or have recently had – an ingrown toenail. And now you’ve developed some foot or leg pain. What’s going on and could they be linked?


How Ingrown Toenails Affect Your Feet


First thing’s first: ingrown toenails typically do not cause foot pain. Their pain is usually limited to the toe (often the big toe) that is affected, with the occasional throb radiating out from the toe – but not too far. With that said, ingrown toenails can lead to foot pain by:


Changing the way you walk


When you have an ingrown toenail, you may be changing the way you walk to minimise your pain from your ingrown toenail without even knowing it. This is known as guarding and is the same as walking on the outside of your foot when something is sore on the inside of your foot. As you change the way you walk to avoid or reduce the pain felt from the ingrown toenail, your gait changes, and so does the way your muscles are used with every step. Some muscles will have to work harder, and may become overused. Some areas of your foot may now also be taking on more pressure, and may get sore too.


Before you know it, you’ve got foot pain – and depending on how severe it is, you may need to treat this cause of foot pain too, alongside your ingrown toenail. This is why we always recommend getting your ingrown toenail treated ASAP – and why procedures like a partial nail avulsion that keeps ingrown toenails gone for good are often performed.


Be mindful of infections


If your ingrown toenail has become infected, and the infection is severe enough, it may also be a cause of pain in the foot. In these cases, you’ll likely notice the redness around your toe creeping up the foot. This can get serious quickly – so make sure you see your GP or podiatrist ASAP, there’s a good chance you will need antibiotics to help with the infection and then will need the nail treated quickly.


Could your footwear be the culprit?


We often see tight, narrow-fitting footwear as a culprit of ingrown toenails. This happens as the forefoot is squashed inside the shoe, and the result is that the nail is pushed into the surrounding skin. If this is the case, then it could also be possible that your tight footwear is also responsible for the foot pain you’re experiencing. 


If you’re lucky, the problem will be minor and will quickly settle when you stop wearing the shoes. For some, their shoe wear is long enough to do damage to the feet as well as the nails, and they need care to rehabilitate their feet, too. Don’t worry about figuring this out – your podiatrist will help explain this to you and determine what factors caused it.


Our Podiatrists Can Help With Both Ingrown Nails & Foot Pain


The beauty of our clinic here at the Auckland Ingrown Toenail Clinic is that we’re part of Perform Podiatry – Auckland’s leading podiatry clinic. This means that we can not only treat your ingrown toenail – but assess, diagnose and care for your foot pain too.


If you’ve got foot pain after, or at the same time as an ingrown toenail, we can help. Book your appointment online with us here or call us on 09 523 2333.

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About the author

Hanan Kane

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