5 Common Big Toe Problems
Stephen Pinney, MD
There are a number of problems that can affect the great toe –also known as the Hallux. Here are five common problems:
Bunions, also known as hallux valgus (big toe angled to the outside) are the most common great toe problem. Many bunions are painless, but some are associated with pain over the prominence on the inside of the big toe –especially if tight constrictive shoes are worn. Bunions often run in families and are more common in women than in men. Pain in the forefoot and flatfeet may also be seen in patients with bunions. For more info on bunions checkout here.
Arthritis of the big toe develops over time in certain individuals in a condition called hallux rigidus (Big toe stiffness). The cartilage of the big toe joint wears away due to the way the joint is loaded. This leads to pain, swelling, and stiffness in the big toe joint. This condition is often seen on both feet –although one side is usually more painful than the other. For more info on great toe arthritis checkout here.
In some individual one or both sides of the toenail of the big toe will “grown into” the skin and soft-tissue beside the toenail. This causes the soft-tissue to become inflamed and even locally infected leading to pain and swelling. An unusually shaped (ex excessively curved) toenail is a risk factor for developing an ingrown toenail. For more info on ingrown toenails checkout checkout checkout here.
Gout is one of the oldest known medical conditions. It commonly affects the great toe. “Gout attacks” are very painful and cause swelling and redness of the big toe (also known as Podagra). Uric acid is a chemical that is found in the blood. When the levels of uric acid get too high it can crystalize in the joint lining (commonly in the big toe). The body responds to these crystals with an intense inflammatory reaction leading to marked big toe pain. For more info on gout checkout here.
An acute injury where the big toe is jammed upwards often produces a “turf toe.” The injury causes a partial or complete tearing of the strong lining (plantar plate) stabilizing the base (near the sole of the foot) of the big toe joint. Turf toe injuries are commonly seen in any sport (ex. football) or activity where the big toe may be jammed upwards in a forcible manner. For more information on turf toe injuries checkout here.