What causes pain in the big toe joint?
There are two common causes of pain in the big toe joint. Both involve abnormal function of the joint itself. In the presence of a bunion, the big toe joint is misaligned. The big toe is functioning off to the side of the joint, or at an abnormal angle to the metatarsal behind it, and not directly in front of it. Therefore, over time, the cartilage can erode away, leading to pain and arthritis. The other common cause of limitation and pain in the big toe joint is when the metatarsal bone behind the big toe elevates up excessively with every step you take. So instead of the big toe riding over the top of the metatarsal when the toe bends, the elevated metatarsal causes the toe to jam at the top of the joint. This abrupt jamming leads to a limitation in the amount of motion that’s available at the joint. Over time, this leads to the production of bone spurs on the top of the joint, which further limits the amount of motion available. A progressive arthritic process ensues, and as the joint continues to break down, the cartilage erodes away. Movement of the toe can become excruciatingly painful.