What is causing you big toe pain? 

Pain in the big toe, otherwise known as the first metatarsophalangeal joint, can affect people of all ages. Pain may develop suddenly or slowly due to an underlying condition. Depending on the cause there may be several treatment options available.

Hallux Rigidus (Big Toe Arthritis)

The medical term used to describe a stiff, painful big toe joint is Hallux Rigidus. The loss of motion in the first metatarsophalangeal joint is normally a result of arthritis. There are two main types of arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA).

Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative arthritis, is the most common and usually develops slowly over several years. It occurs when there is a systematic loss of cushioning cartilage in the joints and the bones begin to rub against one another.  This can be very painful and reduce joint motion drastically. If the condition is not treated, the bones can eventually overgrow and fuse together on their own causing a complete loss of function.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. A typical joint in the body is made up of bones that move against each other and are held together by ligaments and a sheath (called a capsule) that surrounds the entire joint. The inner lining of the capsule is called the synovium. In rheumatoid arthritis, the synovium of the joint becomes inflamed and enlarged, eroding the neighboring bones, ligaments, and cartilage. This results in damaged and painful joint surfaces.


  • Pain and stiffness in the big toe while walking, bending, running
  • Joint tenderness
  • Swelling and inflammation around the joint
  • Difficulty wearing shoes due to bone spur development (overgrowths)
  • Dull pain in other areas of the body (hip, knee, lower back) due to changes in the way you walk

Learn about the BioPro First MPJ Hemi Implant treatment for hallux rigidus. 

Hallux Valgus (Bunion)

A bunion, commonly referred to as Hallux Valgus, is described as a bump or enlargement of bone around the base of the big toe joint caused by misalignment of your bones. This bump occurs when your first metatarsal drifts medially (towards the inside of your foot) and your phalanx drifts laterally (towards your second toe).


  • Pain or soreness
  • Inflammation and redness
  • Bump on inside of the foot
  • A burning sensation
  • Possible numbness

Turf Toe

Turf Toe results when ligaments, tendons, and soft tissues in the joint stretch or tear. This type of injury usually occurs in athletes by jamming their big toe.


  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Limited joint movement


Gout is used to describe a type of inflammatory arthritis. Gout is caused by small crystal formations of uric acid within the joint space. Gout attacks are very painful and can happen quite suddenly, often overnight.


  • Sudden intense pain often in the middle of the night or in the morning
  • Inflammation, swelling, and warmth over the joint


Sesamoiditis is a type of tendonitis caused by overuse or damage to the sesamoid bones. If the sesamoid bones become fractured, they can cause irritation to the tendon. This normally occurs in pushing off or jumping activities, which is why it is common in dancers and runners.


  • Dull and longstanding pain beneath the big toe
  • Intermittent pain with certain activities

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