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What are some causes of a swollen big toe?

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Quick Answer

The underlying causes of a swollen big toe include gout, osteoarthritis and fracture, according to Foot Vitals. Early diagnosis usually allows physicians to treat swelling and pain without having to perform surgery.

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Gout, a form of arthritis caused when uric acid builds up in joints, typically starts in the big toe, explains the Arthritis Foundation. Over time people with gout may experience swelling and pain in other joints. Treatment for gout includes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications or medications that help regulate uric acid levels.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage located between bones and joints starts to breakdown, notes Healthline. Without cartilage, bones and joints rub together, causing pain and swelling. In many people, the first symptoms of osteoarthritis is big toe swelling. Treatment options for osteoarthritis include steroid injections, physical therapy or surgery to remove the existing cartilage. Surgical pins keep the toe joint in place to prevent further agitation.

A fractured big toe can lead to swelling and pain, making walking difficult, explains MedicineNet. When out of alignment, a fractured big toe may appear bent and stiff. Treatment options for a minor fracture include rest, ice, compression and elevation. More severe fractures may require people to wear a brace or splint until the big toe heals.

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