The big toe also known as hallux has its own importance in the human anatomy of the foot,as it maintains the balance and bears the brunt of the force that is generated by walking. It is the last part of the foot to leave the ground with each step. As the name suggests big toe pain is the condition in which the patient experiences pain in the big toe or the hallux. The big toe pain can cause more problems and disability than pain experienced in the other four toes together.
Big toe pain also known as hallux pain sometimes extends from deep inside the joint,but mostly the pain remains localized to the nail. The Big toe pain completely immobilizes the victim affecting a persons ability to perform their everyday activities.
Symptoms of big toe pain
Pain in the hallux is obviously the first symptom of the big toe pain. Other symptoms that usually follow big toe pain include
- swelling of toe
- cold digit
- stiffness in the joint
- pain with ambulation
- difficulty with footwear
- redness of the big toe
- nail pain
Swelling and bruising of the toe are a definite sign that the injury has occurred,especially if the pain came on suddenly and was associated with trauma. Nail pain followed by drainage,redness and swelling may indicate an in growth toe nail that has become infected. Sudden discoloration or cold digit depicts a more serious cause for the big toe pain possibly a lodged blood clot or ischemia.
Causes of big toe pain
- Hallux Rigidus
Patients that have been diagnosed with one of these condition have hallux pain as a common symptom. These are the most common reason for big toe pain.
Gout is a painful disorder that is caused due to rise in uric acid levels in the bloodstream until they reach level where they precipitate out into the joint space of the big toe. The uric acid can cause joint inflammation,which leads to swelling,redness,pain and stiffness in the big toe.
Hallux rigidus is the medical term for stiffness and pain in the big toe joint. It causes a lot of pain and stiffness in the big toe when walking,but gradually progresses to discomfort even at rest. Bone spurs begin to develop with this condition,making the symptoms even worse. This condition is common to people who have structural foot abnormalities giving them and abnormal gait which puts extra pressure on the big toe.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis that causes the joint cartilages to wear down over time. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body including the joint in big toe. Possible signs and symptoms associated with osteoarthritis are pain in affected joint,joint stiffness,decreased joint active range of motion,grating sensation in affected joint and osteophytes or bone spurs.
Treatment of big toe pain
Treatment of big toe pain mainly depends on the cause and magnitude of the pain. Treatment of gout involves medication. Drugs used to treat future gout attacks involve use of Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen,that reduces the pain. Colchicine is another pain reliever that is recommended by the doctor if the patient is unable to continue with NSAIDs. Injections of corticostreoids also help in reducing inflammation. Surgery and long term therapy such as cheilectomy,reshaping of the proximal phalanx and joint replacement may be needed in extreme cases of big toe pain.