May is Arthritis Awareness Month, and while this condition typically attacks joints in the knees, hips, and hands, it can occur in any part of the body where there are joints, including the toes. So today, Dr. Timothy Barry of Family Foot & Ankle Care of Jasper in Dubois County is sharing what you need to know about the symptoms of arthritis in the toes.

  • Toe arthritis is the result of swelling of the toe joint and usually attacks the big toe, but the others may be affected in some cases.

Risk factors include age, weight, family history, and history of wearing high-heeled shoes.

Symptoms of toes with arthritis include the following:

  1. Pain: Pain in the big toe (or other toes) is often the first noticeable symptom of arthritis. It ranges from an achy feeling to a stabbing sensation when moving.  
  2. Stiffness: Arthritis eventually inflames tissues, damages synovial fluid, and wears away at the cartilage between the joints, making them stiff and difficult to move.
  3. Swelling: All kinds of arthritis cause swelling in the joints, which can, in turn, cause visible swelling, and in some cases, the toes may turn red and feel warm—many notice this symptom after sitting for a while or after getting out of bed.
  4. Popping and grinding noises: A grinding noise – similar to when you crack your knuckles – is also a fairly common symptom. The sounds result from deterioration of the cartilage that typically cushions and supports the two bones in a joint.
  5. Change in appearance: If your toe looks bigger than it used to or it is beginning to rotate away from your foot, this could be symptoms of toe arthritis.
  6. Heat: When the swelling creates more blood flow to the toes, you may feel a sense of warmth in the area and redness on the skin around the joints that is tender to the touch.
  7. Locked joint: Rough edges on the bones and bone spurs can cause a joint to lock up, making the toe feel like it is stuck, and it can be painful.
  8. Difficulty walking: Each of these symptoms can make walking extremely difficult and painful. You may find yourself adjusting your gait as you try to put less weight on your toes.

If you experience any of these symptoms of toe arthritis, contact the office of Dr. Timothy Barry of Family Foot & Ankle Care of Jasper in Dubois County at (812) 481-7200 immediately to schedule a consultation.