Causes of Pain in the Big Toe Joint
Pain in your big toe joint can make you miserable. The first metatarsophalangeal joint is the joint that connects the big toe to the first metatarsal bone of the forefoot. Even though the joints of the toes are small, they are important for healthy foot functioning.
These joints endure significant weight-bearing stress. When they are hurting, you are in for a bad day. Some of the problems that most frequently occur at this joint include these five conditions.
A bunion is a large, knobby bump over the big toe joint that is associated with a common foot condition known as a hallux valgus deformity. Bunions are caused by a malpositioned big toe joint and are not bony growths, which is a common misconception.
Besides a bump appearing, hallux valgus causes a shift in the big toe position, causing it to drift toward the lesser toes over time. The usual result is a widened forefoot and a red, irritated, and sometimes swollen bump on the side of the big toe joint. While most bunions are due to faulty foot biomechanics, conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can lead to a bunion deformity.
The most common form of arthritis that affects the big toe joint is osteoarthritis, caused by degeneration of the articular cartilage. Osteoarthritis at the big toe joint may develop from problems with foot structure and functioning, resulting in excess wear-and-tear. Trauma such as a fracture or dislocation of the big toe can also result in osteoarthritis. Other, less common types of arthritis that affect the big toe include rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
Symptoms of arthritis of the big toe may include pain, a grinding sensation, stiffness, and swelling. The pain of osteoarthritis of the big toe is generally most noticeable when standing and walking. Some people with osteoarthritis of the big toe joint develop a condition called hallux rigidus, in which there is unusual stiffness of the joint, resulting in restricted big toe extension.
If the arthritis advances, knobby growths called bone spurs may develop that resemble a bunion. The difference though is that while bunions develop on the inside of the foot, bony spurs from advanced arthritis tend to form on top of the big toe joint. Like bunions, these bony enlargements can create a hallux valgus deformity in which the big toe points towards the second toe.
Gout is a metabolic condition that can affect the big toe joint. Gout occurs when uric acid builds up in a person's blood, forming crystals which then get deposited into a joint, commonly the big toe joint. The medical term describing gout in the big toe joint is podagra.
Symptoms of gouty arthritis include a red, hot, and intensely painful joint. If gout attacks go untreated and occur repeatedly for a number of years, joint damage may occur. In addition, gout tophi may form, which are visible or palpable urate deposits seen on the toe.
The sesamoid bones of the foot are two tiny bones found under the first metatarsal bone, near the big toe joint (first metatarsophalangeal joint). They sit within a tendon that flexes the big toe down.
The sesamoid bones are subject to pain and inflammation from acute or chronic trauma. Sesamoiditis is often linked to activities that involve balancing on toes or jumping, such as ballet dancing or basketball. Fracture of a sesamoid bone can cause similar symptoms, often with significant pain under the ball of the foot and in the area under the big toe joint.
Turf toe is a common sports-related injury, and like sesamoiditis is characterized by pain on the bottom of the big toe joint. The pain stems from a sprain, which is an injury or tears to a ligament in the toe.
The name turf toe comes from the link between this injury and sports played on artificial turfs, such as football and soccer. The injury occurs when the toe endures excessive force while flexing, such as when an athlete pushes off from the big toe when cutting and running. The conditions of the hard turf, athletic shoes, and stress on the toe from running may all contribute to this injury.
RIVERA FOOT & ANKLE: At Orlando H.Rivera DPM, our priority is to deliver quality care to informed patients in a comfortable and convenient setting. When you have problems with your feet, you need to turn to a podiatrist who listens and responds… an experienced doctor who knows the field and can effectively diagnose and treat your needs… a friendly physician who counsels you on the best ways to maintain and improve your health. Our physician(s) meet all these criteria. Plus, you benefit from a dedicated team of trained professionals who give you the individualized attention you deserve.
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