Big Toe Joint Pain

Joint pain is a common complaint in many people, especially those that are physically very active in the form of stiffness over hyperextension of the bones and muscles due to heavy involvement in sport. Also people who are ushering into their golden years will suffer joint pain due to the stiffness and atrophy of the muscles and growing brittleness in the bones. This also most commonly appears as arthritis. Pain in the big toe is more common than people think and is most often passed off as the aforementioned, but can have a totally unrelated cause.


Causes of Big Toe Joint Pain

1. Hallux Rigidus

This is more commonly known as arthritis affecting the big toe. The joint that is affected is the largest joint at the base of the ball of the foot. When standing or walking for sustained periods, the joint will radiate sharp pain to the big toe. The most common of victims of hallux rigidus is elderly people who are now experiencing the organic result of wear and tear of the joints over a lifetime.

2. Bunions

Normally there is a fluid filled sac called the bursa that will prevent the joints from rubbing against the bone like nature’s lubricant. When people have bunions, that sac is swollen and a red round protrusion is seen on the side of the big toe pushing it to the side. This causes extreme discomfort in the big toe.

3. Injury

You can injure the big toe in so many ways and you may not even feel it for a day. When you stub your toe it is very painful and generally only hurts for a few minutes but if you break a toe, since there is no way to cast a toe you may be left with an injury that is permanent. If you have an injury in the big toe, you may have caused swelling in the joints that may bring on discomfort by participating in certain activities and by wearing certain shoes as well as being affected by certain cold and or damp weather conditions.

4. Gout

The Gout is caused by uric acid crystals building up around the joints of the back of the foot commonly around the Achilles heel. This causes tremendous pain throughout the whole foot which manifests in unique locations for a variety of people. A warning sign that you are about to get an attack could be a fierce pain the big toe joint; this is called referred pain.

5. Bone Marrow Edema

This is a slow healing condition caused by a collection of fluid in the bone. This will cause marked swelling and pain which may take up to a year to heal completely. The most common sufferers of this condition are athletes which will injure their big toe repeatedly.

6. Arthritis

The most common arthritis condition suffered by the big toe is osteoarthritis. This is a painful and chronic condition for those that have it; it is a life-changer. It is generally brought on by injury or age.

7. Sesamoiditis

Sesamoid bones are two small bones that are located right between the tendons of the big toe that allow the toe to point downward as with a ballet dancer or a basketball player.

8. Turf Toe

It is similar to sesamoiditis that it manifests in a localized spot at the base of the big toe. This can also be chronic especially in its most common sufferers such as sports athletes.

Treatment for Big Toe Joint Pain

Treatment for big toe joint pain can vary just as the causes vary. Listed below are some of the most effective and common up-to-date ways to treat the condition.

1. Heat Therapy

This is a simple yet effective treatment for afflictions of the big toe such as turf toe or sesamoiditis as well as bunion pain and some injuries.

2. Medications

You can get over the counter anti-inflammatory medications or NSAIDS to take care of more minor pain and swelling caused by less serious afflictions. These are fast-acting and extremely effective.

3. Corticosteroids

When the pain is unresponsive to the aforementioned, it is recommended that a steroid be administered. These are not generally taken for extended periods of time.

4. Injections

Injections at the site of pain are a good way to relieve symptoms long-term; this is great for active people that can’t afford to be stopped by the pain.

5. Fitted Footwear

Sometimes fitted footwear is in order for the sufferer from an orthopedist. Shoes and special insoles can be made after a mold is taken of the person’s foot to relieve pain caused by pressure that traditional footwear can aggravate.

6. Surgery

This is normally the last and most invasive treatment but in some extreme cases necessary to relive fluid and pressure from the bone and even repair tendons.

7. Toe Exercises

Orthopedists will sometimes recommend toe exercises to strengthen the muscles and relieve pain that is caused by an injury that has weakened the muscles surrounding the big toe joint.

Big toe Joint Extensor

  1. Sit upright in chair and rest the affected heel and foot on your opposite knee.
  2. Locate the spot where your shin bone connects to the Achilles tendon.
  3. Follow your fingers from the spot above your ankle and work your way up the shinbone. Notice any tender spots.
  4. Move your big toe up and down while maintaining pressure on the tender spots. Do not be concerned if your other toes moves too, just keep the big toe moving.
  5. Continue this for no more than reps of 5-10.
  6. This will relieve much strain from the big toe and eventually with practice, will discontinue the pain in the big toe or at least relieve it considerably.

Big Toe Joint Flexor

  1. Sit upright in a chair and maintain the same posture as in the joint extensor exercise.
  2. Locate the spot where your Achilles tendon and lower leg bone meet.
  3. With both your thumbs, press and hold any tender spots.
  4. Maintain the hold a few seconds while you flex your big toe up and down.
  5. Repeat for no more than reps of 5-10.
  6. This exercise will treat the muscles that flex your big toe up and down and make it far suppler so as to relieve pain from the stiffness and over use.

Foot Flexing and Stretch

Other helpful remedies that complement the aforementioned exercises would be a total stretch and flex of the foot. You can do this while watching TV or sitting on the couch you could practice flexing the entire foot several times each while the opposite foot soaks in hot water, then switch.