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What is arthritis of the great toe?

20 September 2018

Arthritis of the great toe sounds like quite a grand description for what is actually a common and painful condition. Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Andrej Nikoloski explains.

The great toe, or more commonly known as the big toe, can be affected by arthritis as the joint cartilage wears down. 

This causes the joint to become stiff and painful and sometimes leads to a deformed big toe.

Arthritis in the big toe can occur due to an existing condition, injury, bunions, gout, infection or an inflammatory disease.

Symptoms of arthritis in your big toe

The signs and symptoms of arthritis in your big toe include:

  • pain in your toe, particularly as you walk
  • swelling
  • a bump on the top of your toe
  • stiffness in your toe and difficulty bending it up or down.

Treatment options

You don’t always need surgery to treat arthritis in your big toe, but it is an option that may provide good results.


Non-surgical options can include wearing larger shoes, or an insole to help cushion the painful areas along with anti-inflammatory medications.


Surgery can help relieve pain and improve movement within the toe. In general, surgery is either done to clean the joint, replacing worn cartilage with a synthetic prosthesis or fuse the joint together.

Your doctor will recommend the best treatment options for you.

Recovery after surgery

It can be hard to stay off your foot after surgery as we use our feet and particularly our big toes everyday.

It generally takes up to six weeks to return to your daily activities and to be able to wear standard shoes again.

Your doctor or physiotherapist will recommend a recovery and rehabilitation program to help you get back on your feet and doing what you love as soon as possible.

Any surgical procedure carries risks. Make sure you discuss all possible risks with an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Mr Andrej Nikoloski - Orthopaedic Surgeon - Foot and Ankle Specialist

Mr Nikoloski is an orthopaedic surgeon at St John of God Mt Lawley and Midland hospitals who specialises in foot and ankle surgery and trauma. He also performs knee joint replacement and knee arthroscopy. After graduating from Perth Modern School in Subiaco, Mr Nikoloski obtained his medical degree at the University of WA in 2003. He completed his orthopaedic training in 2014 and subsequently did an AOA accredited foot and ankle fellowship at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney.