What Is Causing My Big Toe Joint Pain?

Our big toes are complex mechanisms with big jobs to do. In fact, the big toe is responsible for each push-off of the foot when we walk, run and dance.

Pain and swelling in the big toe is often really in the toe's joint and can have many causes. You will have other symptoms too that can help determine just what is going on with the big toe. Some of these can be:

  • Bruising, redness and discoloration
  • Pain that is worse after resting
  • Stiff joints
  • Toenail pain
  • Trouble wearing shoes

Common Causes of Big Toe Joint Pain

  • Arthritis. Big toes are vulnerable to wear-and-tear damage from arthritis which appears commonly in the base of the big toe. You'll feel pain and stiffness when pushing off the ground.
  • Bunions. These bumps over the big toe joint push the toe inward toward the other toes and are caused by heredity and also by shoes that are too tight or pointed.
  • Capsulitis. Ligaments at the base of the toe become inflamed and painful.
  • Diabetes. This disease can cause toe and foot pain from damage to the blood vessels.
  • Fractures.
  • Gout. Gout is a form of arthritis resulting from high levels of uric acid in the body that creates crystals. The crystals often settle in the big toe joint causing intense pain, redness and tenderness.
  • Ingrown toenail. The big toe is the most common place for an ingrown nail where the sides of the nail grow into the surrounding skin and tissue. Symptoms include pain, redness and swelling and sometimes signs of infection.
  • Sesamoiditis. The sesamoid bones are under the big toe and help you to push off the ground. Sesamoiditis, or inflammation of these bones, will cause pain in the area. Jumping and wearing high heels can cause this inflammation.
  • Tennis toe. Repeated damage to the toe such as when you come to hard stops playing tennis can cause a blood accumulation under the nail. You'll see discoloration and feel a throbbing pain.
  • Turf toe. This injury primarily affects athletes playing on artificial turf and is caused by hyperextension of the toe. The pain is felt on the bottom of the big toe which is also inflamed and tender.

Joint pain in the big toe usually worsens and needs professional attention. Please call us at the Podiatry Group of Annapolis if you have big toe discomfort. We'll examine your foot and discuss your symptoms and activities to make an accurate diagnosis.

Typically our treatments will include anti-inflammatory medication and custom-fitted orthotics to relieve pressure and pain. Wearing sturdy shoes with plenty of room will help as will stretching exercises.

Call Us for Relief from Big Toe Joint Pain

Dr. James M. McKee, DPM, board certified podiatrist at the Podiatry Group of Annapolis has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating big toe pain along with all other types of foot and ankle pain. Please call us at 410-224-4448 to make an appointment at our office in Annapolis, MD. You can also request an appointment at the website. Don't delay getting help for your pain - call us today!