Big Toe Joint Pain And The Many Different Causes

As the title of this post suggests, there is an abundance of causes for pain in the big toe joint. Finding the cause of your pain isn’t easy, which is why seeing a podiatrist about the issue is vital. A podiatrist is able to examine your foot, ask you questions about your other symptoms and previous medical history and then recommend the best treatment for you and the condition. With that in mind, we are going to take a look at some of the more common and less common causes of joint pain in the big toe below. The information below is offered to you as a way of seeing the possible cause of your pain; it is not intended to be used to treat the condition.

Four common causes of big toe joint pain


Caused by intense friction, blisters are a painful problem to have. Small pockets of fluid will form on the areas that are rubbing, most of the time this is due to wearing ill-fitting footwear. They can also occur in response to medication, heat or chemicals.

Tennis toe

A repetitive damage that causes blood to pool under the toenail. The cause of this painful condition typically occurs during an activity where your foot is slamming into the end of your shoe when changing direction or stopping suddenly i.e. tennis. You will feel a throbbing in your toe and see a reddish/black colour underneath your toenail.


Underneath your big toe, there are two bones called sesamoid bones. These bones act as a pulley for the tendons in your foot. They are particularly important in the pushing-off phase of walking. Sesamoiditis happens when there is an inflammation of these bones and the tendons that surround it. You are likely to notice pain under your toe and in the ball of your foot. You might also notice some swelling and bruising around the area.

Toe Arthritis

The base of the big toe is the most common place in your foot to get arthritis. The reason for this is because the big toe is always bending as we walk, run and jump, making it very prone to wear and tear. You’re likely to notice pain in your big toe; you also may notice that your big toe is stiff and inflamed.

Three less common causes of big toe joint pain

  • Fractures: A break in the bone of your big toe, typically caused by trauma although a repetitive stress injury can cause it.
  • Blue toe Syndrome: A blockage of a blood vessel that reduces blood and oxygen flow to your foot.
  • Tumours: tumours in the foot bones are rare, only 3-6% of all bone tumours are in the feet.

To find out more about other common causes of big toe pain, please take a look at the article we posted last week. Joint pain in the big toe is quite a complex symptom that can be caused by many different conditions. If you have pain in your big toe and would like our help finding out the cause of it, pop in or give us a call, we are always more than happy to help.

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