Causes Of Big Toe Joint Pain

Big toe joint pain or pain around the big-toe can be crippling for some people.

Although this site is mainly about painful feet and in particular the issues surrounding Plantar Fasciitis and heel pain, there are other parts of the feet that become painful and that will be worth discussing for the benefit of everyone.

The human foot has 33 joints, which can become inflamed or sore for a number of reasons. In this article, I will be looking at pain in the joint of your big toe, what can cause it and what you might be able to do to remedy the problem (without going to the doctor).

Unsurprisingly, the toes, especially the big toe suffer the main weight of the body on them as you walk, run and move around. The big toe and it’s metatarsophalangeal joint (where the toe connects to the bone in your forefoot) is ripe for becoming sore due to a number of symptoms.


Mostly seen in Women, the bunion is a large bump that extends out to the side of the big toe joint. The proper medical term for this problem is “hallux abducto valgus” and there is a great deal of disagreement in the medical world over what causes the problem.

Many people believe that the bunion is due to over-use of bad footwear, especially high heels or shoes that force the toes together without much room for movement.

Research shows that communities around the world who do not wear shoes had no sign of bunions at all, which sort of proves the theory. However, other professionals suggest that the issue is genetic. For example, both my wife and mother-in-law both have bunions which they believe they “caught” from their family links.

From my mind, once you have a bunion, apart from surgery to have it removed, there is not much that can be done to get rid of it and you are left with managing the pain more than anything.

I would recommend using products like a toe spreader that can help separate the toes again or support socks and might also be effective at managing any pain that is in that area.

Arthritis And Gout.

Although these 2 problems are the most common issues of bone and joint soreness, I am not really going to go into them in too much detail here as they are massive topics on their own that really need intervention from a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Arthritis and stiffness of the big toe joint can be very painful and hinder your movement, so if you suspect that you have this then a visit to the doctor is the next thing you should do.  Arthritis of this area is usually caused by injuries or fractures to the joint or toe, rather than other types such as osteoarthritis.

Joints in the foot can be affected by Gout, which is a build up of uric acid in your blood, causing tiny crystals to form in joins around the lower body, making them sore and very painful.  If you leave Gout untreated, it can lead to further problems in later life.

Sesamoiditis Or Turf Toe.

If the pain your toe joint is underneath then you are most likely suffering from either of these conditions, which are quite common in people who are active and enjoy sports or spend lots of time on their feet.


There is a tendon that allows you to flex your toe downwards and supporting that tendon are 2 small bones called he sesamoid bones.

These are quite delicate and can become damaged or inflamed from activities that might see you spending more time on your toes rather than the sole of your foot.  A good example of type of people that get big toe joint pain from Sesamoiditis are ballet dancers, who are always balancing on their toes.

The treatment for Sesamoiditis can be hard to administer as you use this area of your foot constantly for balance.  The ideal way to treat them would be to rest, or put your foot in plaster – but this is not ideal for most people.

Ensure that you are wearing good shoes that allow for movement and splay of your toes, which will help reduce any additional stress on the bones and toes.  Alternatively, products like a toe spacer will help by making sure that your toes are in the correct position all of the time (some spacers can also be worn inside your shoes).

Turf Toe

Turf Toe is a similar problem and is usually caused by sports activities.  In fact, the name comes from it being a common injury amongst people who play sports like football on artificial astroturf – that’s how common this injury is!  If you have this injury, you will have tenderness, stiffness of the joint and possibly some swelling too.

When you run, your big toe gets bent quite a bit, which can lead to tears in the ligaments that make the toe bend and flex or tears in the capsule that surrounds the joint.  Any injury to this area can cause turf toe, which can be quite painful.

The best remedy for this injury is to apply ice and take some anti-inflammatory medicine and then rest as much as possible.  Unfortunately and frustratingly, this is the best course of action if you want a speedy recovery.

Other big toe joint pain.

As I said earlier, there will be a number of different reasons why your big toe might be sore or painful.  There is also the possibility that you have just bruised or damaged the bone or muscles in that area.

Of course, the best advice I can give is to seek proper medical assistance, as I am not a qualified doctor or podiatrist.  However, rest, ice and something to take the pain away will help you to see if the issue is not too serious.

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