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Having arthritis pain in your big toe?

Are you struggling with arthritis in your big toe? Arthritis in your toe can make day-to-day activities like running errands seem like a major chore.

Let’s look at some of the common symptoms of arthritis in your toe and what you can do to relieve them. 

What Are the Signs of Arthritis in the Big Toe?

If you think arthritis is affecting your big toe or your entire foot, you may experience one or more of the below symptoms. 

  • Appearance Changes

If you have osteoarthritis specifically, you may notice that the joint in your big toe looks different.

The joint may develop a bony growth that protrudes on the side of your toe. This bony growth develops from the bones rubbing and may look similar to a bunion.  

  • Pain After Activity 

While staying active can keep your joints relaxed, overdoing it can increase pain. You may find your arthritis pain to worsen if you have been on your feet all day. 

If you find that you struggle more standing for extended periods, be sure to schedule enough time to rest throughout the day. 

  • Stiffness and Swelling

Arthritis in your foot will likely cause swelling and joint stiffness. You may find it difficult to bend your toe or find it too painful. When this happens, give your joint time to loosen in and try again. 

The swelling can also make it hard to take on and off your shoes, especially in the mornings, as swelling can worsen overnight. 

  • Warmth Sensation

You may notice that your toes become warm to the touch. The warmth may be accompanied by redness and tenderness.

The sensation of warmth comes from additional blood flowing to the joint from inflammation. The feeling may be uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be so painful it disrupts your regular activities. 

  • Popping Noises

Due to arthritis wearing down the cartilage in your joints, you may notice your toes and feet begin to make popping sounds similar to the sound that occurs if you pop your knuckles. 

You may start to notice a grinding sound coming from the joints as well, caused by the bones rubbing against each other. 

  • Trouble Walking

You may find it difficult to walk from the pain as you rely heavily on your big toe.

As painful as it may be, more issues will arise if you allow your joint pain to keep you from moving around. You will want to find a way to manage the pain so you can continue to complete daily tasks and exercise regularly. 

Arthritis or Gout?

If you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis and your big toe starts aching, you may assume that your arthritis is the culprit. But depending on your specific symptoms, it could be gout. 

Your pain may be gout if it develops suddenly and starts only in the big toe. Gout is also more likely to come with a fever. Arthritis pain typically increases gradually, whereas gout pain comes on strong without much warning.

Your doctor will be able to tell you if what you are experiencing is arthritis or gout through a combination of blood and imaging tests.

Home Treatments

To help manage the arthritis pain in your toe from home, there are several options you can try. 

  • Heat and over-the-counter pain relievers are reliable go-to’s for managing swelling and pain. 
  • Picking the right footwear can ease help ease discomfort. You need to choose shoes that are sturdy but offer enough room for your toes to move. You can buy inserts for added support if you find that you need them. 
  • Scheduling regular time for movement can help to keep your joints from becoming too stiff. Try to keep your exercises low-impact. Swimming is an ideal activity that will keep pressure off of your feet.
  • Other at-home treatments that may be helpful include hot and cold pain relief creams, a foot brace or compression socks, and stretching exercises.
  • Consult your doctor before starting any at-home treatments for your arthritis. 

Medical Treatments

Footwear commonly found on the market may not provide adequate relief. Your doctor can have custom insoles or shoes made to accommodate your needs.

Also, if your joints are stiff and have a limited range of motion, you may benefit from physical therapy. Your physical therapist will develop a treatment plan that builds from where you are currently.

Another treatment your doctor might recommend to help with the pain is corticosteroid injections. The corticosteroid will be injected directly into your joints. Many people find relief from one injection, but additional injections can be performed overtime if needed.

As a last resort, your doctor could recommend surgery. Surgery can be used if the joint needs to be rebuilt or replaced. It can also be used to take out damaged cartilage and perform a fusion to keep the joint in one permanent position.  

Surgery can be performed to remove bone spurs caused by osteoarthritis, but this is generally avoided if possible because the growth is likely to reoccur. 

Prevention of Arthritis

While things like age and genetics play an uncontrollable role in arthritis, there are some things you can do to try to help prevent arthritis. Or at least prolong it from occurring.

  • Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle can keep arthritis at bay. According to the Arthritis Foundation, each extra pound you carry creates an additional four pounds of pressure on your joints. This added pressure can wear down your cartilage.
  • Try to eat a well-balanced diet low in processed sugars and create a regular workout routine that will help strengthen your muscles and, in turn, better support your joints. 
  • You should also focus on getting treatment for any injuries you’ve suffered. Joints that have been injured are more likely to develop arthritis.  

Even if you already have arthritis, doing these things can lessen its severity. 


Arthritis in your big toe might not seem life-altering until you consider that your big toe is a point of balance that affects your ability to stand and walk.

One or more of the treatments in this article may help you find relief so you can continue to engage in your favorite activities without interruption.

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