What is Big Toe Arthritis?

Arthritis describes a joint that is inflamed. The big toe can be affected by inflammatory arthritis, when the body attacks one component of the joint, or by osteoarthritis, when wear and tear changes occur within the joint. The wear and change variety is commonly called Hallux Rigidus, as the joint becomes stiff.

Big toe arthritis is most commonly the result of osteoarthritis. The joint can become painful due to chemicals released by damage to the joint. Extra bone forms around the joint. This can limit the movement of the joint. Also, a nerve running over the joint becomes stretched, especially with downward bending of the toe.

Movement of the joint is required to allow normal walking. If the joint is painful, the foot may compensate by adopting an abnormal position, such as walking on the outer border of the foot. The extra pressure on the balls of the foot can be painful. Also, if upward bending is limited, the foot tends to turn outwards to allow ‘toeing off’ in walking.

The joint can become progressively more painful, and the extra bone around the joint may prevent normally sized shoes being worn.

If you have a bunion, it is best to see an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in foot and ankle surgery. You should have x-rays taken in a standing position - this will show the position of the bones in your walking position, and help decide what treatment you need.

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operation involvesBig_Toe_Arthritis_Surgery.html
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