Why Does The Big Toe Joint Hurt?

There are several common reasons that people get pain around the big toe joint. The most common of these are arthritis in the joint itself, a bunion deformity, or a gout flare.

Arthritis of the first metatarsal phalangeal joint can affect people of many different ages. We see this start to develop in people in their 20s and when this happens to people in this age group, it is typically developing because of a previous injury. Patients also develop this as they get older from wear and tear arthritis that we call osteoarthritis. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis also developed pain within their great toe joint.

Arthritis in the big toe joint is typically treated with shoe modifications, arch supports or orthotics, steroid type injections, and surgery. If the arthritis is caught in the early stages, sometimes removing the bone spurs and possibly performing an osteotomy to realign the joint surface is a possibility.  If the arthritis has progressed to the later stages, we typically recommend either a joint fusion called an arthrodesis, or a joint replacement.

The next common reason we see pain around the big toe joint is a bunion deformity. A bunion is when the medial aspect of the first metatarsal had causes a bump that is painful in the great toe joint region. The bone typically presses on nerves and makes shoe fitting difficult. Wider shoes and padding can be helpful, but many times when the pain continues, surgical intervention is necessary. When bunion deformities are less severe, more minimally invasive bunion type surgeries are available. There are more minimally invasive techniques even for the more severe bunion deformities, but it is important to address this as early as possible if this is causing pain or other problems.

Gout is another reason people get pain around the big toe joint. Gout occurs when uric acid builds within the body, and it then crystallizes around the joint that causes symptoms such as redness, warmth, and severe pain. Gout flares are very treatable, but even if no treatment is performed, the pain typically will go away after several days. The problem is that if you do not treat gout and get it under control, arthritis and more long-term pain will eventually develop within the joint.

If you are suffering from any foot and ankle pain, the whole team at the Foot and Ankle Institute of Colorado is here to help you. Our team of expertly trained surgeons and staff are here to get you back on your feet as soon as possible. Call us at 719-488-4664 today, so we can help you!

Author
Dr. Matthew Hinderland Board Certified Podiatrist and Foot and Ankle Surgeon

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