What Is Big Toe Pain Or Hallux Toe Pain?

When talking of our feet, it is one of the most complex structures which consist of different types of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and the like of which one of the most important part of the foot is the Big Toe or the Hallux Toe. In layman's terms, the Big Toe or the Hallux Toe is the part of the foot which is the last part to get off of the ground while walking. If for any reason there is pain or injury to the Big Toe, it can cause significant problems ambulating. Big Toe pain or Hallux Toe pain is either concentrated on the nail or is felt deep in the joint but an injured Big Toe can render an individual disabled as he or she will find it extremely difficult to walk and go about their normal activities of daily living. Here can be many reasons due to which Big Toe pain or Hallux Toe pain can be caused. An underlying medical condition like gout, arthritis, or a direct trauma to the Big Toe causing fracture may cause Big Toe pain or Hallux Toe pain. Another potential cause for Big Toe pain may be structural defect in the foot itself. If this pain is not treated appropriately and on time then it can cause serious damage to the foot and in some cases necessitating amputation of the foot as well.

Causes Of Big Toe Pain Or What Can Cause Pain In Hallux Toe?

Big Toe pain is not a medical condition but in fact is a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Mentioned below are some of the reasons which can lead to Big Toe pain or pain in Hallux Toe:

Causes Of Big Toe Pain Or What Can Cause Pain In Hallux Toe

  • Gout
  • Vascular anomalies
  • Tumor in the bone
  • Structural defect of the foot, especially the toe
  • Tendon or ligament inflammation in the Big Toe region
  • A traumatic injury to the Big Toe or a fracture
  • An ingrown toenail
  • Bunion formation
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid abnormalities.

In case if your Big Toe pain is a new symptom and you have never been diagnosed with the above mentioned conditions and have not sustained any trauma to the toe, then it is highly recommend that you get checked for the above mentioned conditions by a specialist.

What Are The Symptoms That Accompany Big Toe Pain Or Hallux Toe Pain?

What Are The Symptoms That Accompany Big Toe Pain Or Hallux Toe Pain?

Apart from the pain that one suffers in the Big Toe or Hallux Toe, there can also be accompanying symptoms as mentioned below:

  • Presence of swelling around the Big Toe
  • Presence of erythema or discoloration
  • Drainage from the Big Toe
  • Digits which feel cool to touch
  • Rest pain
  • Difficulty with ambulation
  • Problems wearing shoes
  • Persistent joint stiffness
  • Bruising along the Big Toe or Hallux Toe.

Here it is important to note that an underlying cause needs to be identified for prompt treatment of Big Toe pain or Hallux Toe pain. Citing some examples, if the pain in the Big Toe or Hallux Toe started abruptly and there is bruising and discoloration then there is a high likelihood of you sustaining an injury to the Big Toe. In case if you feel that your digits around the Big Toe also feel cool to touch and there is visible discoloration of the Big Toe area then this might necessitate an evaluation of a physician as there may be a blood clot causing this or a blocked artery. If Big Toe pain or pain in Hallux Toe is localized to the nails and there is drainage from the area then it may be a case of an infected ingrown toenail.

How Is Big Toe Pain Or Hallux Toe Pain Diagnosed?

During the first visit with the treating physician, the physician will take a detailed history of the symptoms inquiring about the duration of the symptoms, if you have any accompanying symptoms along with Big Toe pain. The physician might also ask about your daily household activities and whether you stand for prolonged periods of time at work. All these answers may help the physician pinpoint the cause of the Big Toe pain. After this, the physician will then conduct a focused examination of the Big Toe to look for any areas of tenderness to palpation of if the pain is widespread or localized to any one particular point. A blood test may also be drawn to look for any infections. Radiologic studies in the form of x-rays, CT scan, or MRI may be ordered to rule out fracture or any damage to the tissues or other structures.

How Is Big Toe Pain Or Hallux Toe Pain Treated?

The treatment for Big Toe pain or Hallux Toe pain starts with identifying the cause first. At the beginning, the RICE protocol will be followed along with pain medications in the form of ibuprofen or Advil to calm down the pain and swelling present. The physician may also recommend shoe inserts or orthotics so that the Big Toe or Hallux Toe is not pressurized and the pain is reduced. Some of the conservative approaches to treating Big Toe pain or Hallux Toe pain include:

  • Use of NSAIDs like ibuprofen and Tylenol.
  • Performing stretching exercises diligently.
  • If pain medications and exercises fail to relieve the symptoms then injecting corticosteroids for pain relief.
  • Physical therapy.

All the above modalities will be decided by the treating physician depending on the cause of the pain. Citing examples, if gout is the cause of the pain, then the treatment will be aimed at controlling gout either through dietary modifications or by medications. In case of bunions, a surgical procedure may be required to correct the condition. In case of an ingrown toenail which has become infected then antibiotics will be the route to go to eliminate the infection and then removing the ingrown toenail.

Things To Know As a Part of Your Treatment Plan

Below mentioned are some the questions that you may ask the physician regarding Big Toe pain which can come in handy:

  • What are the diagnostic studies that I need to undergo in order to diagnose the cause of my Big Toe pain or Hallux Toe pain?
  • What are some of the easy ways to reduce Big Toe pain or Hallux Toe pain which I can do at home?
  • What are the pain medications can I use for controlling Big Toe pain which I can buy over the counter?
  • What are the steps I should follow to reduce discomfort from Big Toe pain if my jobs requires me to be on my feet throughout the day?
  • What are the activity restrictions that I should follow for Big Toe pain or Hallux Toe pain?
  • Will I be able to drive comfortably after treatment of Big Toe pain or Hallux Toe pain?

How To Prevent Big Toe Pain Or Hallux Toe Pain?

Below mentioned are some of the methods to prevent Big Toe pain or Hallux Toe pain:

  • Wear properly fitting shoes
  • Perform exercises of the feet diligently, especially if you stay on the feet for a long period of time at work or at home so that the muscles of the foot are kept strong.
  • Nutritional consult is required for people suffering from gout.
  • When performing sporting activities, wear adequate protective gear to avoid any trauma to the Big Toe
  • Drink adequate fluids
  • Consult with a doctor as soon as you experience Big Toe pain accompanied by any other symptoms mentioned above.

Also Read Other Toe Deformities:

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: September 17, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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