Your big toe is an important part of the body. It helps to keep our balance, bends with each step we take, gets jammed with any quick stops or twisting motion, and is under added stress when wearing high-heels.
With anything that takes a beating like the big toe, occasional pain is normal and could stem from a busy, activity-filled day, but constant pain could be the sign of an arthritic condition called hallux rigidus. Hallux refers to the big toe and rigidus means the toe is rigid and cannot move. If it’s in an earlier stage and movement is only slightly limited it’s called hallux limitus, but as the joint stiffens and worsens over time it can make it difficult for you to walk, stand for long periods of time or crouch down. Hallux rigidus can be hereditary, but often it is caused by repetitive stress from the workplace or some sports. Workers who are required to stoop a lot, golf and tennis players are more prone to developing hallux rigidus. It can also stem from an injury like a severely stubbed toe.
If you experience any big toe pain while standing for long periods, walking, squatting or bending over, it’s time to contact a foot and ankle surgeon for an examination. If caught early, it can be improved over time with conservative treatments such as shoe modifications, physical therapy, orthotics, medication or injection therapy. As the condition worsens if conservative treatment methods fail, surgery may be required.