Living with Big Toe Arthritis, Strategies for Managing Pain and Staying Active

What is Big Toe Arthritis?

Big toe arthritis is generally caused by wear and tear of the joint where the cartilage wears down and the big toe joint becomes enlarged and stiff over time. Arthritis of the big toe is caused by either genetic factors or due to trauma to the area.

What are the Symptoms of Big Toe Arthritis?

Symptoms of big toe arthritis include pain and stiffness of the joint. The pain may be intermittent or throughout the day. You might find that gradually you are unable to wear shoes due to bony bumps growing around the big toe. It may be mostly present when walking but may also be present at the resting stage in advanced arthritis. There may be occasional swelling around the big toe joint, particularly related to enlargement.

The big toe arthritis can be caused by a variety of reasons including degenerative changes as in osteoarthritis which is a natural ageing process. It may also be caused by gout where the uric acid is raised or other rheumatological conditions.

Outside poor genetics and osteoarthritis and old injury damages the cartilage over time there is advancement in the joint pathology leading to big toe arthritis.

How to Manage Pain and Stay Active with Big Toe Arthritis?

One should remain active. It is important to maintain a healthy weight and maintain range of motion by exercising the big toe joint. Wearing supportive shoes with a rigid sole would reduce the demand on the big toe joint.

Applying ice to reduce some of the inflammatory components after activity and occasionally may need to take anti-inflammatory medication.

Steroid or hyaluronic acid injections can be used in the short-term to manage symptoms and may last for a period.

Should these not help then one may consider surgery which would either involve cleaning up the joint via cheilectomy procedure or fusion of the big toe joint as well as joint replacement as needed.