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Big Toe Pain

It is not rare for extremities to get painful because, given their position and function, they are easily injured. Big toe, with its prominent position on the foot, can often be affected by pain. It is important to know the cause of the pain in order for it to be treated effectively. There are several possible reasons and causes for big toe pain.


Osteoarhtritis is a degenerative disease which affects the joints. It happens when cartilage, the soft layer between the bones, breaks down or wears off and causes bones to rub against each other. It also often causes the joint to move out of its place.

Rheumatoid arthritis is another condition, considered to be more serious. It is a systemic autoimmune disease in which the joints are affected and destroyed. It causes significant pain and swelling.

Both conditions can affect big toe as well and be a source of pain in the area.

Hallux rigidus

Hallux rigidus is stiffening of the joint and the toe and the toe becomes rigid and painful. It is a degenerative disease and it is considered to be a form of ostheoporosis. It is caused by food deformities such as flat foot or fallen arch, and it is worsened if exposed to damp, cold weather.


Once considered a rich man’s disease, today it is known that gout can affect anyone. Three quarters of gout patients develop problems in big toe joint. It is caused by uric acid in the blood that has not been properly processed and it crystallizes in the joints and causes pain, swelling, redness and tenderness.


Bunions are often mistaken for Hallux rigidus. Bunions in fact include shifting and displacement of the side bone in the foot, which causes the big toe to move towards the adjacent toes. There is usually a bony lump at the side of the foot and there can also be excessive bone growth on the big toe joint. Bunions can be very painful, they can get inflamed and cause complications. Even without pain and inflammation, they can be very unattractive and annoying since they make it really difficult to find shoes that fit well and do not hurt the foot.


Trauma is one of the most common and most obvious causes of big toe pain. Almost everyone has jammed their big toe on a table, door or bedside, or has had someone heavy step on their toe in the crowd. Trauma and injury may cause bone, tissue and nerve damage in the big toe and consequently pain.

Other, less common causes of big toe pain may include toe paresthesia, sesamoiditis and Raynaud’s disease.

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