Arthritis is a common cause of big toe joint pain, resulting from the wear and tear of the cartilage in the joint, causing the exposed bone to rub against each other, leading to inflammation and pain.
Faulty function or biomechanical abnormalities such as flat feet, which increase the pressure on the big toe joint, can cause osteoarthritis or wear and tear arthritis. Additionally, injury, inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or gout, can also cause big toe joint arthritis.
The symptoms of big toe arthritis include pain, even when at rest, difficulty wearing shoes due to bone spurs, and changes in the way you walk. Diagnosis can be made by a podiatrist, a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM), or a foot and ankle orthopedist, through a physical examination and a simple foot x-ray.
There are non-surgical and surgical options for treating big toe joint arthritis. First, it is recommended to modify footwear to supportive shoes with a large toe box and a stiff rocker sole. Arch supports or orthotics can help improve foot function and reduce pressure. Medications such as NSAIDs or prescription anti-inflammatory drugs can also help. Cortisone injection into the big toe joint can effectively reduce swelling and pain. If non-surgical treatments do not provide enough relief, procedures like cheilectomy, which removes the bony lump on the joint of the big toe, or joint fusion may be recommended.