Wednesday 22 May 2019

Dear Dr Nina: Why do I get a sharp pain in my toe joint?

Photo posed
Photo posed

Nina Byrnes

Q I get a sharp pain in my right toe joint every now and then. It doesn't happen very often but I am worried it might mean arthritis. What do you think?

Dr Nina replies: Pain in the foot can occur through the toes, forefoot, mid foot, heel and arch. Poor-fitting shoes are a common culprit.

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Morton's neuroma is a thickening of the fibrous tissue that surrounds the nerves in this area of the foot. Fibrous tissue builds up due to friction between the bones, ligaments and nerves in this area. Morton's neuroma is more common in women. Other risks include being obese, playing high intensity sports or foot injuries.

The pain in Morton's neuroma can be quite severe and can cause cramping burning or stinging that can shoot into the toes. It is sometimes relieved by massaging the foot or flexing the toes. Pain may be worse when walking and some people can feel like there is a lump between the toes. You don't mention which toe is causing you pain but if it's the big toe then gout may be another cause. Gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden severe attacks of pain, swelling and redness in a joint.

Pain in the foot may also be due to wear and tear of the foot joints, a condition called osteoarthritis.

To treat foot pain try taking anti-inflammatory medication, elevating the joint, resting and applying ice packs to reduce inflammation.

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