Pain In Your Big Toe

Pain in the big toe is a common problem encountered by a range of people of different ages from children to the older adult. Depending on the stage of life the pain can be caused by a number of different conditions, which can all be helped by the team at Melbourne Podiatry Clinic.

Below are the 4 main issues that most commonly affect the big toe:

Turf toe (big toe sprain):

Turf toe is a sprain of the big toe joint and occurs when the joint is bent beyond its normal range in either an upward or downward motion. These injuries can occur due to jamming the toe or from repetitive injury from pushing off during running or jumping.

The symptoms of turf toe include pain, swelling and reduce movement at the joint. The symptoms may occur suddenly or slowly progress over time depending on the way the injury occurred.

Treatment for Turf toe includes rest, strapping and padding to offload the area.


The sesamoids are small bones that sit under the joint of the big toe, they help with shock absorption and provide protection for the joint. These small bones play a big role during running and court sports such as basketball and netball.

The area around the sesamoids can be inflamed as a result of an increased training load or altered mechanics during running or walking which increase the pressure to the area. ‘This is known as sesamoiditis and is characterised by pain and swelling under the joint of the big toe.

This condition can be treated with the use of padding and correction of the mechanics that have lead to the increased stress on the area.


Characterised by a ‘stiff big toe’ or a restriction of motion at the big toe joint due to the repetitive load placed through the joint during with every step.

Osteoarthritis has been shown to be present at the big toe in 30% of people over 60 years of age. It can lead to changes to the joint, resulting in reduced motion and outgrowths of bone which look like lumps around the joint.

Pain associated with osteoarthritis is usually described as a deep dull aching sensation that can become more constant as the disease progress. Pain at the joint can occur during or after activity, due to the increase stress applied to the joint during activity.

Depending on the severity of the arthritis treatment can include mobilisation, anti-inflammatory creams to reduce inflammation and orthotics to reduce stress on the joint.  


Gout is an inflammatory arthritis caused by too much uric acid in the bloodstream. The uric acid can form solid crystals within the joint, which causes severe pain and swelling. It commonly affects the joints of the hands and feet, with the big toe being one of the most common sites to be affected.

The symptoms of gout are a red, hot, painful and swollen joint, which is known as a gout flareup and can last for 7-10 days. The symptoms will begin to dissipate following this period but the disease will continue to progress in the background and can lead to destruction of the joint if left untreated. Gout is treated with the use of medication and lifestyle choices to control the level of uric acid in the bloodstream and during a flareup medication is used to reduce the pain and inflammation.

The changes to joint that occur can lead to altered biomechanics which can result in pain, these changes can be treated with the use of padding and orthotics to reduce the pressure on the affected joints.

The big toe plays an important role during walking and when not functioning properly can lead to changes in the way we walk which can be debilitating and limit us from performing the things we love. Above are a few of the conditions which affect the big toe, but to ensure that you can get back to doing the thing you love faster it is important to have the right diagnosis to ensure the treatment you receive is right for you!

Here at Melbourne at our Essendon and Blackburn clinics, we love to help you get back on your feet.