What are the causes of pain in the big toe and ball of the foot?

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It is important to note that an adult performs approximately 9,000 steps in a day. With every step taken as the foot rolls forward, the body weight moves onto the ball of the foot as the toes extend to prepare for push-off. In most individuals, the big toe supports the bulk of the load during the push-off. Some individuals often experience pain in this sensitive part of the foot. The common causes of pain in the big toe and ball of the foot usually include gout, bunions, sesamoiditis, arthritis and turf toe.


Gout is described as an inflammatory condition that is triggered by the deposit of uric acid crystals inside a joint. The condition commonly affects the joint that connects the big toe to the foot. Gout can cause severe swelling, pain and redness around the joint, thus making movement of the toe and weight bearing difficult. With the improvements on gout first aid care and treatment, only a few suffer from severe destructive deformities on the joints.

Even though treatment can be given, the cases of gout have increased recently. This might be due to a connection between the increased prevalence of gout and metabolic syndrome which is characterized for insulin resistance, obesity, elevated blood fat and high blood pressure.

Big toe pain
The common causes of pain in the big toe and ball of the foot usually include gout, bunions, sesamoiditis, arthritis and turf toe.


Some individuals inherit a type of foot in which the big toe is angled towards the other toe. In some cases, this type of misalignment is due to injury. In either case, the misalignment can be caused by excessive pressure and stress on the base of the big toe. Take note that a bunion is a solid bump that usually forms at this point. These bumps appear swollen and red which can cause diminished mobility of the affected toe.


The sesamoid bones are the small, round-shaped bones that are embedded in the tendons. The base of the foot close to the big toe has two sesamoid bones inside the tendons that bend the toe. Individuals who perform a lot of jumping and landing on the balls of the feet can develop sore inflammation of the tendons that surround these bones. The tenderness is emphasized at the weight-bearing part of the ball of the foot.


Since the joint between the foot and the big toe is subjected to constant bending and loading, arthritis is likely to develop. Arthritis can develop due to wear and tear as time passes by. It can also develop due to the chronic misalignment that occurs with bunions or due to the destructive inflammation of recurrent gout attacks.

Turf toe

Once the toes are planted firmly on any surface while the heel is elevated, the downward energy on the foot can bend the big toe in a backward manner more than its usual range. If excessive force is involved, it can cause the tearing of the ligaments at the base of the toe. It is important to note that this injury is usually experienced by soccer and football players who play on artificial surfaces. This is a painful condition that can be treated with rest, application of ice, elevation and medications particularly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The individual can resume regular activities but can take several days to weeks, depending on the severity of the injury.


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