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Toe joint pain – What causes it and what can be done about it?

Podiatrist Natasha Knox on Toe Joint Pain- causes and management


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common cause of pain, stiffness and lack of motion of the big toe joint. Symptoms of early OA are characterised by pain or discomfort localised to the joint, particularly when pushing off through the ball of the foot. This usually improves with rest. As joint degeneration progresses, pain generally worsens and may persist during rest, sometimes associated with bony prominences around the joint. Other possible causes of big toe joint pain include hallux valgus (bunions), sesamoiditis, gout, or other inflammatory conditions. Big toe joint OA can be differentiated from other common conditions by an experienced podiatrist.


Big toe joint OA is diagnosed via a thorough history and physical examination, and most often involves the use of imaging. During physical examination, assessment of the degree and quality of joint movement, along with analysis of walking gait is essential to forming an accurate diagnosis. Radiographic findings are used to support the clinical diagnosis, and rule out other potential conditions.



A number of conservative treatments can provide relief from big toe joint pain. First and foremost, obtaining appropriate footwear for a person’s foot type and condition is essential to everyday comfort. In addition, orthotics worn inside footwear with specific modifications can also help to relieve pain and re-distribute pressure. Activity and lifestyle modification with an individualised approach may also assist in managing symptoms. If conservative measures fail to relieve symptoms sufficiently, or the joint degeneration is advanced, joint injections, pharmacological therapies and surgical procedures are available. Goals of treatment include reducing pain and stiffness, maintaining mobility at the joint, maintaining quality of life, and preserving functional mobility and independence.


If you are suffering from big toe joint pain click here to book a podiatry consultation with our Podiatry team or call the clinic on 9284 4405.








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