What Causes Big Toe Joint Pain? Common Types & Treatments

big toe joint pain causes and treatment

Big toe joint pain? Learn the causes and treatments here.

Big toe joint pain is felt when your toe joint swells up due to inflammation and your foot cannot perform its flexible movements properly.

Often, the big toe joints are affected by regular wear and tear of life and is an issue that mostly affects seniors or over weight individuals. Interestingly, women who wear heeled shoes may become victims of big toe joint pain as well.

In this post we will look at the various symptoms, types, causes and treatments for big toe joint pain.


Big toe joint pain has the following symptoms:

  • Pain — a deep achy pain turning into a sharp and itchy sensation when you move. The severity depends upon the level of inflammation.
  • Stiffness — your toe joint may be stiffer due to the wearing out of cartilage fluid.
  • Noises — grinding noises may be heard from the bones due to lack of cushioning fluid.


Having pain in your big toe joint can be due to a few causes. There isn’t a long list here because this kind of pain is caused specifically in these conditions:

Here’s a great video on the condition known as Hallux Rigidus, or arthritis of the big toe joint:

Osteoarthritis (OA):

OA in the toe starts with symptoms of tenderness and swelling in the toe joint. An overall pain may be felt in your foot as you walk followed by a burning sensation when you relax it. Arthritis causes inflammation which will most commonly swell up your toe joint.

Cartilage fluid also suffers in this disease allowing the bones to rub against each other. Apparently bone spurs are created when your body automatically tries to repair it by creating more bone.

The reason for OA is mainly the patient’s age factor. Cartilage gets worn out as feet are used more often. With increasing age, the recovery of cartilage gets very slow naturally.

Treatment for OA:

You can choose from multiple home remedies and medical treatments to recover from an OA condition in your toe joint:

  • Placing ice bags on your toes can give relief for a while. While Anti-inflammatory medicine can help you out with the pain.
  • Choosing the right kind of shoes also plays an important role in reducing foot problems. Try to avoid high heeled and tight footwear.
  • Perform foot stretches according to your doctor’s advice.
  • Steroids may be injected in your toe joint in case other medication doesn’t help.

Hammer Toe:

Hammer toe is a disease in which your foot acquires a deformed shape. Due to this deformed shape, your toe starts pointing downwards at all times. Any toe of your foot can be affected in this problem but the first or second toe are affected most commonly. People either have a hammer toe at birth or they develop it over time because of wearing tight or pointy shoes.

Treatment for Hammer Toe:

There are various options to treat a hammer toe depending upon its severity:

  • It can be corrected slowly by wearing appropriate shoes that may help in reshaping your foot properly. Toe pads can be helpful.
  • Anti inflammatory cushions or pads can be used to fix the ill shaped joint.
  • Surgery is the last resort to fix a hammer toe if none of the above mentioned practices works.

While these are the most common causes, types and treatments for big toe joint pains, we encourage all our readers to share their own experiences and comments.



Jeremy Clark has written 12 articles

Jeremy loves traveling around the world and has spent a couple of years in Africa, which he believes were transformative for him. He studied medicine for a few years before switching to law but still loves writing about medical issues and research.

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