Causes of Big Toe Pain

The extremities are always painful when there is a problem, and the big toe is no exception. It is one of the areas of the foot which frequently gets injured and can become highly painful due to a number of medical conditions. Determining the nature of the problem is important in order to find the correct treatment program. If you have just started to get big toe pain it could be due to a number of factors, as detailed below.
If you are a long term sufferer of big toe pain, now is the chance to do something about it and get to the root cause of the problem. This website identifies the common causes not just of big toe pain, but of toe pain in general.
The first joint in the big toe is the most common site of toe pain, and is known medially as the metatarsophalangeal joint. It is where the metatarsal bone of the foot joins with the phalanges of the toe. When you bend your big toe upwards, it is the joint where the toe bends. It is the most common location for large toe pain.


Osteoarthritis is the degradation of the joint in which the cartilage – the softer connective tissue between the bones – breaks down causing the painful rubbing of bone on bone. It often causes joints to be moved out of place.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a more serious systemic disease in which immune system destroys the joint. It is often accompanied by pain and swelling.

Hallux Rigidus

Hallux rigidus is a condition causing stiffening of the joints in the big toe, which over time will see the toe becoming rigid. Halux rigidus comes from the Latin words rigidus, meaning rigid, and Hallux meaning toe. Along with the stiffness the condition also causes pain. It is a degenerative condition and is a form of osteoarthritis. It is generally caused by deformity such as fallen arches or flat feet, which increases the wearing of the joint. The problem is often made worse in cold damp weather as with all arthritic joint conditions. Read more about Hallux Rigidus


Gout is a condition affecting the big toe which can be the cause of intense big toe pain. It usually affects the first joint on the big toe, with 75% of first time gout sufferers experiencing pain in this location, although it can also affect other joints. It is typified by persistent inflammatory arthritis and sees the toe become swollen, very tender, hot, and painful to the touch. It is caused by the inability of the body to effectively deal with uric acid in the blood, which crystallizes in the joints and tissues causing intense pain. Read more about gout


Bunions are toe deformities which affect the first metatarsal bone of the foot, with the bone becoming displaced outwards, often involving excessive bone growth at the joint at the base of the big toe. A bunion usually refers to the bony lump which protrudes from the outside of the foot. The condition is often accompanied by the movement of the big toe towards the other toes and can be a source of intense big toe pain. Even when not painful, bunions can be a source of intense frustration as it is difficult to find shoes to fit. Read more about bunions


A common cause of toe pain is due to trauma of the foot. If you wake up with toe pain following a night on the town, chances are that you have damaged the foot and cannot remember. Damage to the nerves, bone and tissues are one of the most common causes of big toe pain. As the big toe protrudes furthers from the foot it is most likely to be the source of injury. In sports trauma to the big toe often causes turf toe; a sprain to the ligaments at the base of the toe.


Bursitis is a common cause of big toe pain and is the result of inflammation of the bursa, a fluid-filled sac located at the joints whose function is to help cushion the bones, tendons and soft tissues. The condition commonly affects the first metatarsal joint in the big toe, and as such can easily be confused with other joint conditions such as gout. The inflammation can cause intense pain, with the bursa also prone to swelling which exacerbates the condition. Read more about bursitis

Other problems which can cause large toe pain.

Toe Paresthesia is usually caused by damage to the nerves and presents itself as a burning or prickling sensation.┬áSesamoiditis is a painful inflammation of the sesamoid bones in the ball of the foot just behind the big toe. Raynaud’s disease is a circulatory problem where blood flow to the extremities is reduced, leaving them very cold and with a lack of feeling.