We’ve all experienced it at one point or another. One minute, you’re just walking out of the kitchen. Then, out of nowhere, your big toe comes into contact full force with the table and you’re left writhing in agony, hoping the kids don’t repeat anything you’ve just shouted at the stupid table.
Our big toes are a surprisingly sensitive part of our body, and even the smallest problem can cause immense pain. In this blog, we’re going to give an overview of some of the most common causes of big toe pain, and provide information on how to approach each one.
A bunion is a painful swelling at the base of the big toe. How exactly bunions form is not fully understood, but genetics, arthritis, and improper footwear are believed to be the main causes.
Bunions can be extremely painful, making it difficult to wear shoes or move very far. Treatment options include ice-packs, bunion pads, and orthotics, but if these fail to make a significant difference, surgery may be required to correct the problem. To learn more, see our blog on How to Treat Bunions.
The bigger the toe, the more likely it is to get an ingrown toenail. This is why most ingrown toenails occur on the big toe: it moves less, the nail is considerably thicker, and the big toe is the battering ram of our feet, taking the brunt of the physical force when we kick.
Ingrown toenails can be extremely painful, but fortunately, they can often be treated with home remedies. Foot soaks are one way to alleviate the pain, although you may need to physically place something beneath the nail to encourage it to come out in some cases. You can read more in-depth instructions on this here, but the best way to prevent ingrown toenail is proper clipping. Cut in a straight line, as curving the edges of the nail causes it to cut into the skin.
Corns & Calluses
Although not confined to the big toe, corns and calluses can be a source of pain in this area. The most common type of corn that affects the big toe is a Heloma Durum, or Hard Corn. This occurs when excess skin grows as a result of excess pressure (from improper footwear, for example). Although they are usually harmless and easy to treat, they can be painful.
Calluses on the other hand are usually a result of friction. Calluses are generally considered totally harmless and easy to treat, but may require a visit to the podiatrist to remove. To learn more about the different types of corns and calluses, click here.
Gout occurs when there is an excessive amount of uric acid in the body. This crystallises, leading to pain that can last for weeks. Gout most commonly occurs in the middle joint of the big toe, which will appear red and swollen, as well as feeling stiff and painful. Although painful, gout does not pose a major risk of further complications. However, in order to be treated, a podiatrist may have to prescribe anti-inflammatories, or give an injection to lower your levels of uric acid.
These are just some of the most common causes of pain in the big toe. Fortunately, most are nothing to worry about and can be treated in a straightforward manner. If you don’t think the symptoms laid out above match your pain, it is recommended that you see a professional to identify the issue as early as possible, as many will become harder to treat over time.