Big Toe Joint Pain Causes Bunions

If you develop pain, discomfort, swelling, or inflammation around your big toe, it can cause big problems.

Unfortunately, the joints that connect your big toe to your foot are prone to several conditions that can put a crimp in your step.

At JAWS Podiatry, we see patients all the time who are living with annoying and uncomfortable pain in their big toe. In most cases, we can alleviate the pain and address the underlying issues with non-surgical or minimally invasive treatments.

To understand big toe pain, you first need to understand bog toe mechanics.

Your big toe contains two important joints. The larger of two is the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP), which connects the first long bone of the foot (the metatarsal) to the first bone of the toe (the phalanx). The MTP joint is where many painful problems develop.

Here are four of the most common causes of big joint pain that our patients experience:


A bunion develops because the MTP joint moves out of its normal alignment, shifting the long metatarsal bone towards the inside of the foot while also angling the phalanx bones of the big toe towards the second toe. 

As time progresses, a painful bony bump that appears red and swollen will emerge at the site of the joint on the inside of the foot. You may first notice that bump only after months or years of the big toe working its way inward.

Bunions form for different reasons in different people. Some folks are genetically predisposed to bunions, so if one of your parents developed a bunion, you likely have a higher chance of getting one as well.

For other people, usually women, swearing shoes with a narrow, pointed toe box can force the toes into an unnatural position and put severe pressure on the toe joint. Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can also cause bunions.


A form of arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage wears down at the joints. As with bunions, osteoarthritis that develops in the foot usually does so at the MTP joint.

As time passes, osteoarthritis in the big toe will erode the cartilage at the MTP joint. In turn, the lack of cartilage will lead to the bones in the joint rubbing up against each other, causing pain and inflammation.


Uric acid is a waste product that should pass through the kidneys and leave the body as urine. However, when uric acid instead crystallizes in the and forms small deposits in the joints, gout develops.

Often, the big toe is where the first symptoms of gout manifest themselves, with individuals experiencing sharp pain and swelling in the toe joints.


Of course, anyone who has stubbed their toe or dropped something heavy on their toes knows that injury and trauma can also be the source of joint pain.

In addition to trauma, overuse or repetitive and excessive pressure on the big toe joint, especially in athletes, can also lead to big toe joint pain.

Big Toe Pain Slowing You Down?

Call JAWSpodiatry Today to Schedule an Appointment!

At JAWS Podiatry, we utilize the most advanced and minimally-invasive techniques to reduce pain and speed recovery for individuals suffering from foot and ankle problems, including big toe pain and discomfort.

If you live anywhere throughout the United States or beyond, and you’d like to learn more about the innovative and effective treatments we provide or how we can help you with your foot and ankle issues, please call us today at (954) 922-7333 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.