Pain in the big toe joint is usually caused by degenerative arthritis.
This may follow an injury to the joint, multiple minor injuries or be from poor foot function over time increasing stress on the cartilage within the joint.
The joint at the base of the great toe is called the "metatarsal-phalangeal joint" or MTP joint. Like any other joint in the body it is covered with articular cartilage, a very slick shiny covering on the end of the bone. If this material is injured, it begins a slow process of "wearing out" or degeneration. Once the articular cartilage is worn away bone rubs against bone causing pain. Bone spurs, called Osteophytes form around the joint. These Osteophytes restrict the motion in the joint, especially the ability of the toe to bend upward when the foot moves forward.
- Exercises can help to maintain as much joint range of motion as possible - Strapping may help on a temporary basis - Orthotics, or special shoe insoles made specifically for your feet, support the joint and reduce stress on the joint cartilage relieving pain and reducing the speed of the wear and tear on the joint - Surgery - An Arthrodesis which is fusing the joint. These procedures are best performed by Orthopaedic Surgeons.