Some people accept that aches and pains are just part of growing older. In fact, persistent pain is not something you should ignore. It does not happen without reason. Rather, it is your body warning you that something has gone wrong.  Pain in your feet can be particularly problematic and debilitating because you use your feet often simply to get around. The big toe, or hallux, is an essential part of both balance and moving, providing extra leverage during walking and running.  There are many reasons why you may experience big toe joint pain, and this article will explore a few of the possibilities and some of the things you can do prevent and combat them in order to relieve yourself from the pain.
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Common Causes of Big Toe Joint Pain
Before we look at specific joint problems that can occur in the big toe, it is worth ruling out some other more common problems that could be causing you pain in the area. The first common problem is an in growing toe nail. This painful condition is also known as unguis incarnates and occurs when the toe nail sticks into the skin at the side of your toe.  This causes pain and inflammation and eventually can lead to a nasty infection which sometimes requires surgery. To prevent this from happening, avoid wearing shows that are too tight, trim your toe nails straight across rather than with rounded edges and treat any fungal nail infections immediately. 
Tight fitting shoes can lead to other problems with the big toe, such as corns and calluses. These are areas of skin on the side of the toe that can become painful. They occur when the skin around the bone is rubbed so that it becomes thick and sometimes painful. You can file down calluses yourself with an emery board, but if a corn or callus is causing you pain then seek the advice of your doctor rather than trying to treat it yourself. Another common cause of big toe pain is injury. Instant pain after you stub or drop something on your toe is natural, but if the pain persists then you may have done more serious damage, so make sure you get it checked out by a doctor.
Joint Problems in the Big Toe
A bunion happens when the bones in the big toe are not in correct alignment, which causes the tendons and ligaments to stretch.  This causes pain and inflammation of the joint. In severe cases the big toe can begin to appear deformed, crowding the other toes which lead to even more pain when moving.  The lump on the side of the big toe can also grow and become bulbous. Bunions can be the result of tight shoes that cause our feet to carry out unnatural motions over and over again as we walk in them. However, they can also be hereditary and due to the way we walk. 
Bunions are more common in women than in men. They remain there until they are surgically treated, but there are some things you can do at home to relieve the pain in the meantime. Special shoe inserts can align your feet more correctly and support them in the right place, and gel inserts can protect the area from additional rubbing. Make sure you wear wide fitting, comfortably flat shoes that are not causing any more harm. You can also use ice packs or warm packs, depending on which feels best, on your foot to ease pain and swelling.  However if the pain is ongoing and is disrupting your life, make sure you book an appointment with the doctor to discuss surgery options.
Gout is a kind of arthritis and, out of all the areas in the body, the big toe is the most common place for it to happen. It begins with a build-up of uric acid crystals at the joint.  Pain in the joint of the big toe, along with reddening of the skin, extreme tenderness and swelling could signal an acute gout attack.  Though the pain is likely to subside in a matter of hours, this is not a problem worth ignoring. Even if the swelling is gone, visit your doctor, because gout can affect many other areas of the body and the problem is often reoccurring. There are medications that can help reduce the symptoms of a gout attack and also prevent future attacks from happening, including NSAIDs, corticosteroids and colchicines. 
Osteoarthritis is the breakdown of a joint in the body and occurs equally in men and women. The base of the big toe is one of the most common sites where it occurs, so if you are experiencing big toe joint pain, this could be the reason for it. The symptoms of this condition come in the form of stiffness, decreased ability to move or bend the toe, aching in other parts of the foot, tenderness and pain in the joint.  The aching can be worse in the morning or after long periods of sitting in the same position.  Over time you may notice the big toe becoming permanently swollen or deformed as the bone grows abnormally.
There are many different treatment options for osteoarthritis in the big toe once it has been diagnosed. Physical therapy, involving certain stretches and exercises, is often useful to reduce pain levels.  There are also drug treatments available to treat both symptoms and to prevent the condition from progressing further.  Your doctor can also prescribe you with pain or anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the pain.
If you are experiencing ongoing pain in your big toe then it is a sign that something is wrong. Visit your doctor for advice and treat the problem before it gets worse.