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Sharp Pain in Feet: Symptoms of Arthritis in Toes

Published on 19th December 2018
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Sharp Pain in Feet: Symptoms of Arthritis in Toes

Arthritis and the pain associated with it are commonly noted in the large joints of the body, such as knees, and hips. But, the small bones in the toes are also an area that can be affected by arthritis in toe joints.

Different types of the disease may cause arthritis in toes symptoms. Most often the cartilage in the toes has worn away causing the bones to rub together directly. Swelling and tissue irritation are the symptoms in feet and toes. Big toe joint arthritis is the most common, but it can occur in any or all toes in the foot. There may be noted arthritic symptoms in little toe as well.

hallux rigidus, arthritis of the big toe

Risk Factors and Symptoms

The common risk factors related to the disorder are:

  • History in the family of arthritis.
  • Wearing poor fitting shoes or high heeled shoes for extended periods.
  • Carrying excessive body weight.
  • Growing older.

Symptoms of toe arthritis can be:

  • A noted change in the appearance of feet.
  • Stiffness in feet.
  • Swelling with heat in feet or toes.
  • Popping or clicking in toes when walking or standing.
  • Chronic pain in toes or feet.

hallux rigidus, arthritis of the big toe

In all types of it, immobility and difficulty walking are common. Stopping exercise and adjusting gait happen frequently and cause further problems when not addressed.

What is Hallux Rigidus?

Arthritis involved at the base of the big toe is the most common to occur. The medical term for this type of arthritis is Hallux Rigidus. The joint that is involved in this type of arthritis is the metatarsal phalangeal joint or MTP joint.


The location of the MTP joint in the big toe is the reason it is the most frequently diagnosed arthritis in the foot. The following are some of the symptoms noted with this type of arthritis:

  • Difficulty bending the big toe forward.
  • Noted continued pain at the base of the big toe.
  • Pain and difficulty walking up hills and running.
  • Swelling that is specific to the big toe.

hallux rigidus, arthritis of the big toe

How is it Treated?

After X-Rays are done to check for worn cartilage, and possible bone spurs, a diagnosis to confirm Hallux Rigidus will be made. The treatment options can include:

  • Rocker bottom shoes to improve heel to toe gait.
  • Stiff soled shoes or inserts to prevent bending of the affected joint.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs such as cortisone to reduce inflammation of the joint.

In the more severe cases of Hallux Rigidus surgery may be the best option.

Ways to Prevent Arthritis in Feet

  • Exercise on a regular basis.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Monitor and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

hallux rigidus, arthritis of the big toe

Seeking immediate medical care and treatment when noting any of the symptoms of toe arthritis will help with further damage to joints and loss of mobility.

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