Pain in the Big Toe


One of the most common causes of pain in the big toe is gout. It is a sophisticated form of arthritis identified by the sudden, acute attacks of pain, tenderness and redness in the joints, usually those located on the big toe. This can affect anyone although more men suffer from the condition than women. Women are more likely to get gout after their menopause. Gout is also known as podagra when the pain mainly involves the big toe.

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The severe attack of podagra or gout can wake up an individual around midnight when the big toe feels like it is on fire. The joint affected by gout is swollen, hot and very tender that even little pressure applied on it becomes intolerable. Good thing that gout is easy to treat and there are many ways to lessen the risk of gout attacks.

Symptoms of pain in the big toe

Symptoms involved with pain in the big toe are always sudden and acute and occur mostly at night time without warning. The symptoms include:

• Redness and inflammation – the joints that are affected; the big toe, specifically, becomes reddish, swollen and tender.

• Lingering discomfort – when most of the severe pain dies down, some degree of pain will remain which may last for a few days or for several weeks. Later on, the pain attacks are likely to get longer and affect more joints.

• Intense pain in the joints – most of the time, gout affects the joints of the big toe but it can affect other joints of the feet, wrists, hands, knees and ankles as well. The first twelve to twenty-four hours of pain are the most severe and painful.

Seek medical attention immediately or call your doctor when you experience the suddenness of pain. Do not leave gout untreated as it may only worsen and lead to joint damage. The same goes when your joints are inflamed and feel hot and are accompanied by fever as these can be symptoms of infection.

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Causes of pain in big toe

The main cause of gout is the accumulation of urate crystals around the joints; that is why there is intense pain and inflammation when it attacks, particularly on the big toe. Urate crystals are formed when the levels of uric acid in the blood are above normal. The human body creates uric acid when breaking down purines which are substances naturally in contained in the body and found in certain foods like mushrooms, asparagus, herring, anchovies and organ meats as well.

Normally the uric acid diffuses in the blood and then passes through the kidneys into the urine. But oftentimes the body generates little uric acid or too much uric acid. When this occurs, the uric acid can accumulate and form sharp urate crystals around the area of the joints or the surrounding tissue which causes pain, swelling and inflammation.

One of the factors that risk the body into acquiring gout is the person’s lifestyle. Excessive drinking or eating foods that increase the level of uric acid will more likely result to pain in the big toe. People who excessively drink alcohol are prone to gout because alcohol increases the uric acid level of the body.

Treatment for big toe pain

Pain management is employed to treat the symptoms of gout. Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed to control the pain. For long-term treatment, however, the cause should be addressed. That is, the uric acid level must be controlled and maintained at normal levels. For the treatment to be effective, it is not only necessary that the proper medications are taken, but the necessary lifestyle changes must be adhered to, to effectively eliminate the pain in the big toe caused by gout.

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