Big toes, or as our friends across the pond call them, great toes are useful when walking.

Big toe joints are often one of the first joints in the body to display degenerative changes, also known as osteoarthritis. Many people in mid to later life develop enlarged joints, or bunions, or pain in these joints. The forces running through this joint are the primary reason why, often all of the body weight goes through a very small surface area, such high pressure can over time lead to deformities in this joint. Osteoarthritic changes occur when the ability of the joint to repair itself is lower than the damage which is occurring due to the daily activity, and changes in the joint can be noticed. Suitable shoes for the surface are everyone’s friend here. Ensuring the foot is supported when on flat hard ground will help protect the joint from forces running oblique to its axis.

Painful big toe joints can often be relieved by footwear changes or orthotics. Many patients who wear orthotics find that they allow the big toe joint to function properly, and has a positive effect on other pains they suffer higher up in the body.

Look after your big toe joints, and not just for vanity. If they hurt or have changed recently, go and see a podiatrist to see if they can help.