Gout in the big toe (as well as other joints) is caused by excess uric acid in the blood. Instead of traveling out of the body in urine, the excess acid forms needle-shaped crystals that lodge in joints, and cause pain and swelling, as stated by Medical News Today.
Some of the most common symptoms of gout are sudden and intense redness, pain and tenderness in joints, most frequently at the bottom of the big toe. Another name for gout affecting the big toe is podagra. In 2005, about 2.6 million Americans suffered from gout, but that number is projected to climb to 3.6 million by the year 2025, according to Medical News Today.
Some risk factors make particular people more likely to develop the excess uric-acid levels that contribute to gout. Family history increases susceptibility, and men generate more uric acid than women, at least until women go through menopause. People with chronic exposure to lead may be more likely to develop gout. Drugs with salicylate and diuretics can boost uric-acid levels, as can kidney disease, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism and diabetes. Obesity also increases the risk as the body has more tissue to break down, which causes uric-acid production, as well, notes Medical News Today.