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Surgical Options for Big Toe Pain

Tuesday, 16 January 2024 00:00

The metatarsophalangeal, or MTP, a joint that connects the first metatarsal to the big toe's phalanx, is vital for walking. A stiff big toe, medically known as hallux rigidus, can hinder daily activities. If conservative treatments fail, surgery becomes an option. Cheilectomy involves removing bone spurs and bony material from the MTP joint to enhance toe movement. Recovery includes wearing specialized shoes and potentially physical therapy. For severe cases, joint fusion, or arthrodesis, eliminates joint surfaces and fuses bones with wires or plates. Although toe flexibility is lost, joint fusion effectively alleviates most big toe pain, allowing a return to athletic activities post-healing. For moderate to severe hallux rigidus in less active individuals, arthroplasty or joint replacement may be considered. Arthroplasty removes bone and aligns the joint with a pin. Joint replacement substitutes the joint with an artificial one. Long-term outcomes of joint replacement require further research for informed decision-making, comparing it to fusion. For help in understanding these surgical options, it is suggested that you schedule an appointment with a podiatrist who can determine what the best approach is for you. Treatment will be based on severity, pain levels, and activity. 

Toe pain can disrupt your daily activities. If you have any concerns, contact Dr. Kevin H. Lapoff of Lake Worth Podiatry. Our doctor can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

What Causes Toe Pain?

Most severe toe pain is caused due to a sports injury, trauma from dropping something heavy on the toe, or bumping into something rigid. Other problems can develop over time for various reasons.

Toe pain can be caused by one or more ailments. The most common include:

  • Trauma
  • Sports injury
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Corns and calluses
  • Hammertoe
  • Bunions
  • Blisters
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Sprains
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Dislocations

When to See a Podiatrist

  • Severe pain
  • Persistent pain that lasts more than a week
  • Signs of infection
  • Continued swelling
  • Pain that prevents walking


In many cases the cause of toe pain is obvious, but in others, a podiatrist may want to use more advanced methods to determine the problem. These can range from simple visual inspections and sensation tests to X-rays and MRI scans. Prior medical history, family medical history, and any recent physical traumatic events will all be taken into consideration for a proper diagnosis.


Treatments for toe pain and injuries vary and may include shoe inserts, padding, taping, medicines, injections, and in some cases, surgery. If you believe that you have broken a toe, please see a podiatrist as soon as possible.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our office located in Lake Worth, FL . We offer the newest diagnostic tools and technology to treat your foot and ankle needs.

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