Common Causes of Big Toe Joint Pain

The big toe, an important component of our locomotion, can succumb to discomfort and pain attributed to various factors. One prevalent culprit is osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative joint condition characterized by the breakdown of cartilage. The wear and tear over time can lead to inflammation and pain in the big toe joint. Gout, another common cause, arises from the crystallization of uric acid in the joint, triggering acute pain and swelling. Bunions, a deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe, exert pressure and cause pain. Additionally, turf toe, often prevalent in athletes, results from hyperextension of the big toe, leading to sprained ligaments and subsequent pain. Trauma or injury, ranging from fractures to dislocations, can also be a source of significant big toe pain. If you are experiencing pain in your big toe, it is strongly suggested that you seek the counsel of a podiatrist who can accurately diagnose and offer correct treatment plans.

Toe pain can disrupt your daily activities. If you have any concerns, contact one of our podiatrists of InStride Family Foot Care. Our doctors can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

What Causes Toe Pain?

Most severe toe pain is caused due to a sports injury, trauma from dropping something heavy on the toe, or bumping into something rigid. Other problems can develop over time for various reasons.

Toe pain can be caused by one or more ailments. The most common include:

  • Trauma
  • Sports injury
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Corns and calluses
  • Hammertoe
  • Bunions
  • Blisters
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Sprains
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Dislocations

When to See a Podiatrist

  • Severe pain
  • Persistent pain that lasts more than a week
  • Signs of infection
  • Continued swelling
  • Pain that prevents walking


In many cases the cause of toe pain is obvious, but in others, a podiatrist may want to use more advanced methods to determine the problem. These can range from simple visual inspections and sensation tests to X-rays and MRI scans. Prior medical history, family medical history, and any recent physical traumatic events will all be taken into consideration for a proper diagnosis.


Treatments for toe pain and injuries vary and may include shoe inserts, padding, taping, medicines, injections, and in some cases, surgery. If you believe that you have broken a toe, please see a podiatrist as soon as possible.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our offices located in Concord, Charlotte, and Salisbury, NC . We offer the newest diagnostic tools and technology to treat your foot and ankle needs.

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