In Foot Services, Works

What is Big Toe Joint Arthritis?

Big toe joint arthritis is characterized by an erosion of cartilage, which results in pain and stiffness in the toe joint. The big toe joint, also known as the metatarsophalangeal joint, is located at the base of the big toe. Since this joint moves every time you take a step, becomes painful, enlarged and inflamed, leading to limitation of motion and eventually rigidity.

What causes Big Toe Joint Arthritis?

Arthritis of the big toe joint, also known as stiff big toe or hallux rigidus, is caused when the cartilage covering the ends of the bones in the big toe joint are worn down. Injury to the cartilage can also spark the degeneration process.  Sprain and strains have been known to also lead to joint degeneration. As a result, the bones in the joint begin rubbing together, resulting in ongoing pain and discomfort.

big toe joint arthritis

Big Toe Joint Arthritis

What are the Symptoms of Big Toe Joint arthritis?

  • Stiffness and pain in the big toe joint
  • Motion of the joint becomes limited leading to difficulty moving the big toe up and down
  • Pain that worsens with an increase in activityInflammation and swelling around the joint, caused by irritation from shoe gear
  • The top of the joint can become enlarged (dorsal bunion)

Treatment Options

Non-surgical Treatments:

  • Applying ice to the affected area will help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications can be prescribed to reduce pain.
  • Patient should wear shoes with a wide toe box and stiff, supportive soles.
  • Shoe inserts can help relieve pain and swelling.
  • Cortisone shots injected into the affected area may significantly reduce pain and discomfort.



Surgical Treatments include:

Bone Spur Removal (Cheilectomy)

When big toe arthritis is less severe, the arthritic bone spurs and any arthritic bone that gets dislodged into the joint are removed to give the big toe more room to bend. The surgery provides most patients with great results and long-term relief from the condition.

Fusion of Big Toe Joint (Arthrodesis)

Fusing together the bones of the big toe joint and removing the damaged cartilage around them, is necessary when the condition is severe. Special devices may be inserted to keep the bones in place while they heal together. This surgery is excellent in removing the pain, but the downside is permanent loss of motion as the big toe is locked in one place.

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