Arthritis is a painful condition affecting the joints. It can occur anywhere in the body but is more common in the hands, knees, hips, and feet. Different types of arthritis can develop in the toes and treatment will depend on the type you have.

What Is Arthritis In the Toes?

Arthritis is the term used to describe more than 100 diseases that cause inflammation in and around joints and nearby tissue. Toe arthritis can occur in any of the joints in your toes, but often affects the big toe joint. Arthritis can be caused by different reasons, such as:

  • Past injuries or traumas (such as a fracture or sprain)
  • General wear and tear caused by years of use
  • Overuse injuries
  • Being overweight
  • A family history of arthritis
  • Wearing high-heeled shoes frequently, which can damage the toe joint
  • An autoimmune disease affecting joint health

Symptoms Of Arthritis

If you suspect you have arthritis in your toes, there are a number of telltale symptoms to look out for, including:

  • Inflammation and redness in your toes
  • Recurring pain or tenderness in a joint of your foot
  • Restricted motion in which you find it difficult to move a joint normally
  • Stiffness in the foot, most often first thing in the morning

Types of Arthritis Affecting the Toes

Common types of arthritis to affect the toes include:


Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes the protective cartilage at the ends of the joints to gradually wear away and lead to painful bone on bone rubbing. It can occur with age as a result of general wear and tear on a joint, or as the result of an injury. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the joint at the base of the big toe, called the metatarsophalangeal or MTP joint.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes the body’s immune system (which usually fights off germs) to attack itself, causing a number of different symptoms such as pain and inflammation in the joints. It causes the protective membrane that covers joints, called synovium, to become inflamed, stopping it from working properly. This leads to friction in joints and causes cartilage, bones, and tissues to deteriorate. It can affect many joints around the body but in around 90 percent of cases, it affects the small joints in the feet and toes.


Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs as a result of uric acid buildup in the body. Uric acid is a substance found naturally in the body and in certain foods. If the kidneys do not eliminate uric acid properly or if the body over produces it, it can build up and lead to the formation of urate crystals. These crystals can get lodged in joints and cause pain and inflammation. For most people suffering from gout, symptoms such as pain and swelling commonly affect the joint in the big toe.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis linked to psoriasis, which is an autoimmune skin disease causing red, scaly rashes on the skin. It can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints, particularly in the toe joints. It can also affect the skin of the feet and cause toenails to thicken, develop pits, and separate from the nail bed.

Diagnosis And Treatment for Arthritis in the Feet

If you suspect you have arthritis in your toes, feet, or ankles, a podiatrist can diagnosis and help you manage the condition effectively. Diagnosis of arthritis requires a physical examination, review of your symptoms, and diagnostic or imaging tests.

Treatment for arthritis in the toes and feet may include:

  • Steroid medications
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs designed to reduce joint swelling
  • Pain relievers
  • Physical therapy
  • A brace to support the joints
  • Custom shoes
  • Pads or arch supports
  • Orthotics(inserts to support the foot or ankle joint)

Experienced Podiatrists In Cincinnati, Ohio

If you suspect you have arthritis in your toes, feet, or ankles, talk to the expert podiatrists at Cincinnati Foot & Ankle Care for the best treatment options and cutting-edge support you need. We provide individualized and comprehensive care to quickly and effectively get you back on your feet. If you would like to find out more about the services we provide or to schedule an appointment, call the location nearest you, or you can request an appointment online.