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Can you get arthritis in your toes?

Aching toes? Can you get arthritis in your toes?

Hello again! Dr. Abdul Salam here and I practice at the One Care Medical Center, while arthritis is common and can affect any part of the body, literally any joint including the toes.

Arthritis wears out the protective joint cartilage thereby affecting the joints leading to severe pain as the bones directly come into contact with one another. This results in inflammatory processes leading to tissue swelling and severe discomfort.

Toe arthritis results when the disease process affects the toe joints particularly the big toe joint. Previous injuries, trauma can all result in osteoarthritis, however, gout and other forms of arthritis must also be under clinical suspicion.
As with all forms of arthritis, there are certain risk factors, and these include

-> Increased age
-> Excess body weight
-> As well as a family history of arthritis

Toe arthritis is also more common among women who were high heeled shoes for a large part of their lives.
Some symptoms include


Pain is usually the first and foremost symptom reported in arthritis of the toe. The pain can affect all toes or more specifically the big toe alone. The pain can be achy, deep, or minor and/or sharp. Various qualities of pain have been described.

Joint Stiffness

Arthritis also affects the joints severely and slowly wears away the cartilage making movements grossly difficult. As the joint wears down, walking becomes difficult.

Joint swelling

Swelling of toes can also result, thereby making the toes feel warm and red. This swelling can also cause difficulties in wearing footwear

Clicks and pops

Another fairly common reported symptom with arthritis includes clicks and pops. These sounds are caused by cartilage deterioration. As the cartilage wears off, the bones start rubbing on one another causing these sounds.

Change in appearance

The big toe may change its overall appearance resulting in clawfoot deformity.

Joint getting locked

With increase in the stiffness and swelling, a locked joint can result. Thereby all movements in the joint come to an end. The toe feels stuck and is also exceedingly painful.

All these symptoms as mentioned above can make walking exceedingly difficult. Gait problems may also result and you may stop exercising to ease the strain on your toes due to the pain. Thus if and when you notice constant pain in your toes, visiting your doctor is often the right thing to do.