Pain in the big toe is a common problem and is often easy to treat by making changes in your footwear and the way you care for your feet. In some cases, the underlying cause may be a chronic disease that requires medical intervention.
Poorly Fitting Shoes
Probably the most common reason people experience pain in the big toe is their shoes. Tight shoes or ones with a narrow toe box can place unnecessary pressure on your big and pinky toes. Certain styles of shoes, such as heels with a pointy toe, are more likely the culprit. When you wear these shoes often, they can eventually cause the toes to deform and create bunions. Other shoes, such as work boots, can cause similar problems because these shoes tend to be rigid, even if the toe box is rounded. The best way to prevent this problem is to avoid styles that are not designed for the natural shape of the foot. For work boots or other firm shoes, choose wider widths. A wider shoe can give your toes more "wiggle room," especially later in the day when your feet naturally swell.
Inadequate Shoe Support
Shoes with a hard sole will give you the most support and prevent toe pain. When people need more comfortable shoes, they often resort to slip-on flats with a soft sole. If you can bend the shoe in half, it lacks the support necessary to protect your feet. Make sure the flats you choose are equally as firm as other shoes you own. As an alternative, use cushioned inserts to provide comfort. There is a wide range of inserts available, such as ones with gel or memory foam. As an alternative, you might want to use supportive devices that are specifically made for bunions, even if you do not have bunions. These devices slip over the big toe and add extra cushion and support around the toe joint.
If you have tried different ways to prevent pain in your big toe, it is best to consult a doctor for a diagnosis. Several types of arthritis can be the underlying cause of pain, and each one must be treated differently. Osteoarthritis is the most likely culprit and can develop from wear and tear of the big toe joint. Gout is another form of arthritis that usually affects the big toe and is caused by a build-up of uric acid. Unlike other forms of arthritis, gout is usually more obvious because the base of the toe is red and swollen during a flare-up, and the other toes are unaffected. Inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid and psoriatic, can also manifest as pain in your big toe, but it usually causes similar pain in all the toes simultaneously.
Taking action to prevent or treat pain in your toe can prevent the problem from escalating or in the case of arthritis, minimize the likelihood of physical limitations and further degeneration of the joint. For more information on big toe joint pain, contact your local podiatrist.