Pain and swelling of one joint in your toe can be a sign of arthritis. Getting arthritis diagnosed as early as possible can go a long way towards potentially preventing it from causing more pain and destruction. When someone comes to us to have a painful swollen toe evaluated, arthritis is one of the conditions we think of.

There are certainly other things that can cause this type of pain such as:

  • Gout
  • Injury
  • Bone tumor
  • Cyst

An x-ray evaluation of the toe is essential to making an accurate diagnosis. In some cases, we’ll order a blood test which can indicate some forms of arthritis. Rheumatoid and Psoriatic Arthritis are two of the most common types we see in the feet. Again, a single swollen joint in one of the toes can be a sign of one of these types of arthritis.

Toe Pain

If you have a joint like this, start by treating it like any other type of pain and inflammation–apply ice, take Advil or Aleve, and rest the inflamed part. If the toe doesn’t improve in a week, a consultation with us would be a good next step.

THE BIG PICTURE: A single swollen joint can be quite painful. Avoiding the joint destruction arthritis can cause is only possible if treatment is started early. Unlike the knees, hips and shoulders, toe joints can’t be replaced, therefore, preserving their health should be a high priority. Let us know if a toe joint is causing you pain.


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