Big Toe Joint Pain

Big toe joint pain can be more than just toe pain, it can be debilitating.

A little bit of painful joint is bad enough.  But the big toe, while easy to take for granted, is a MAJOR problem when the joint hurts.

The more it hurts, the more dysfunctional the joint is, the more likely it is to cause you to limp when you walk, or even to prevent you from walking at all.

Whether it's a stubbed toe or toe arthritis, painful big toe joint can be a big hardship and you want to make it all better.

And toe pain in joint of the big toe has a much larger effect on actions such as walking or standing, as compared to problem with the smaller toes.

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What Causes Big Toe Joint Pain?

Pain in foot and big toe joints occur from three primary causes:

  • big toe injury
  • arthritis
  • tendonitis dynamic

Obviously something like big toe arthritis surgery will cause pain, but that's not what we're talking about..we're talking about original causes of big toe joint pain.

Big Toe Injury

Injury to the big toe can cause joint pain, obviously.  Injury is supposed to be short term, and the pain is acute for a while.

Big toe joint pain can be disabling, whether from arthritis or tendonitis.  Fix the cause of the pain before it goes too far.

Then later, there can be chronic joint pain that haunts the big toe.

If you stub your toe, the joint gets compressed in an impactfuly way. That causes pain and inflammation, and can cause bone bruise, which will have the pain and inflammation last longer.

If you get a big toe injury like Turf Toe, that will affect the joint too.

Turf Toe isn't a joint injury, but it can result in or be part of big toe joint pain.  Because turf toe is a ligament injury, and ligaments hold joints together, when the big toe ligament is damaged, the joint is going to become very unhappy also.

Point being, injury to the big toe is usually a short term thing, but likely will set you up for chronic pain down the line.


Arthritis of the big toe comes in two forms:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the predictable result of years of joint compression from too tight muscles and connective tissue.

The compressed joint grinds on itself, causing inflammation and pain, and eventually big toe joint damage and inflammation and pain.

See: Osteoarthritis Symptoms

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a predictable auto-immune response caused by a damaged gut ecology, that causes a variety of symptoms including joint pain.

Big toe arthritis surgery can be necessary if damage from OA or RA gets too far progressed.  (They call it the 'first MTP joint replacement'.

See: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Tendonitis Dynamic

Tendonitis can happen anywhere there's muscle and tendon, and the big toe is no exception.

How does tendonitis cause big toe joint pain?

It's like this:

  1. muscle gets tight and stays tight
  2. tight muscle pulls on tendon that crosses the toe joints
  3. that compresses the joint
  4. a constantly compressed joint will start to hurt and eventually get damaged

See:  What Is Tendonitis?

Big Toe Joint Pain Symptoms

When the big toe hurts, that can cause problems up the entire leg.  See:  Leg Pain Causes

Having said that, the immediate symptoms of joint pain in the big toe are small in numbers.  There is some range in each symptom, like 'mild to severe'.

Basically there are only two symptoms:

  • painful when walking/running/standing
  • big toe pain in joint

Painful When Walking/Running/Standing

If your big toe joint is compromised, then any weight bearing activity is going to cause pain.

If you're sitting down and just wiggling/bending your big toe causes pain, then it's almost certain that standing on it and walking on it is going to be a problem.

Big toe joint problems are what limps are made of.

Big Toe Pain In Joint

Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between toe joint pain and toe pain.

Having said that, it's easy to tell joint pain from non-joint pain. Just push/pull the joint a little, or pushing into the hinge area with a finger!

There may be any variation of 'pain':  burning toe pain, throbbing joint pain, constant or come and go pain, mild to severe pain when moving the joint or standing/walking/etc.

Your big toe can hurt. And/or your big toe joint can hurt.

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