Every step is agony when you have pain and swelling in the big toe. It’s very demoralizing to lose the ability to walk comfortably. Many people don’t realize how hard the big toe works, bearing the weight of our body when we stand and maintaining our balance, until it starts to ache and becomes difficult to move. It’s a joint that most people take for granted until it starts to cause problems.
Everyone stubs their big toe occasionally, causing temporary pain and swelling, but when the symptoms do not go away, it is time for an appointment with the orthopedist to see what’s wrong.
Big toe arthritis is one possible diagnosis. The pressure of holding your weight can wear down the big toe joint’s cartilage, leading to painful arthritis and the inability to move the toe. It’s a type of osteoarthritis, so the symptoms worsen over time as the cartilage further degrades.
Big toe arthritis is a relatively common affliction, affecting one in 40 people older than 50. However, for many years, there haven’t been many options to treat it except fusion surgery (which fuses the bones together and eliminates movement in the big toe), pain medication and physical therapy.