What is big toe pain?

Big toe pain is incredibly common and can be painfully debilitating. We take thousands of steps everyday, yet most of us take our feet for granted. Each step relies on the health and mobility of each and every part of our feet. With every step we take, the foot rolls forward, our bodyweight shifts onto the balls of our foot, our toes extend to prepare for take-off, and our big toes bear the brunt of it all. Common causes of big toe pain include bunions, gout (caused by a build-up of uric acid), turf toe, (tearing of the ligaments at the base of the toe often experienced by athletes), sesamoiditis (irritation of the bones which run to the big toe, common in runners and dancers), and osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs when cartilage in the joints wear down, exposing the bones and causing them to rub against each other, causing swelling, pain, and a much-limited range of motion. It generally starts slowly but gradually gets worse. Since the joint between the foot and the big toe is constantly subjected to bending and loading, it’s a frequent site of OA. The issue can develop over time as a result of wear and tear, as a consequence of the chronic misalignment seen with bunions, from the inflammation of repeat episodes of gout, or even as a later effect of an injury like turf toe.

What are the symptoms of big toe pain?

Even early on, arthritis in the toe can cause tenderness, achiness, and joint pain. You may feel these sensations in other toes or in the arch of your foot when walking. You may develop a burning sensation, or inflammation, characterized by swelling around the joint of your toe.

Because damaged cartilage causes bones to rub against each other, your body tries to protect the joint by growing more bone, which can create bony protrusions called bone spurs.
 This overgrowth can stiffen your toe, making it challenging or even impossible to bend—rendering important tasks like walking very difficult!

How do we treat big toe pain?

It’s important to take big toe pain treatment seriously. Placing ice packs on your big toe can offer temporary relief, and choosing the right footwear can make a huge difference.  We offer concierge services where we go with our patients to help fit footwear using orthopedic tests to figure out the right pain and fit. Always allow plenty of room for your big toe! We examine your foot to look for bone spurs and assess the loss of function of the joint. We show you how to perform stretches and exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your joints, keep you limber, facilitate the healing of your feet, and prevent further injury. We look up the kinetic chain to see if your core and gluteal muscles are firing properly.