Hi there - problems with arthritic big toe

Hi everyone,

I thought I'd drop in to say "hi" and also to tell you about a problem I'm having and whether you could give me some advice.

Both my mother and grandmother suffered with osteoarthritis and I've inherited it too. I'm now 59 years old and I can't remember a time that I wasn't in some discomfort in my feet, but a few weeks ago it reached a bit of a climax: I stubbed my right big toe on a free weight that was left on the floor, but despite not going red or getting swollen I noticed that I had some awful symptoms which started firstly with "fluttering" sensations in the big toe joint and then crippling burning pain on any weight bearing on that foot after spending the day walking in the office and in the evening to get to a restaurant. It wasn't very far but it was far enough to notice the terrible pain.

It is intermittent at the moment - maybe once every week or so I get an attack but I sought the advice of an orthopaedic surgeon (after my GP ruled out a break/fracture or gout) who suggested I get a steroid injection in that joint. Weight-bearing X Rays show severe arthritic degeneration in the 1st MTJ (metatarsal joint) . If that doesn't give relief he's suggesting a big toe-fusion op.

So I have 3 questions:

  1. Has anyone had the steroid injection in the big to joint and if so, did it alleviate your symptoms? Was it very painful and did you get a flare up afterwards
  2. Meanwhile has anyone had the toe -fusion operation and what was that like? Did you get a good outcome? How has the fused joint made a difference to the way you walk and what footwear (women especially) you can wear?
  3. Has anyone had anything other than the fusion op, like the implant or injectables into the joint?

Any insights would be most appreciated. Thank you all in advance. I'm finding this all a bit overwhelming and upsetting if I'm honest as I don't have any family who can help support me through this. 😪



  • Poppyjane
    Poppyjane Moderator Posts: 671

    Hello @SuziB welcome to the online community

    You are asking for some advice from our members about osteoarthritis especially of the foot and big toe. We are a friendly and supportive group and hope that you will find some answers to your questions from the information links, discussion threads and from our posts.

    I attach some links which I hope you will find helpful.

    Feeling overwhelmed and upset is something that happens to many of us when the reality of a diagnosis and the thoughts of living with arthritis in the future sinks in. We hope that you will find time to browse round the community and check out some of the ways that members cope with their conditions and the hobbies and distractions that help lift their spirits. So do join in with us and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Take care


    If it would be helpful to talk to someone ring the Helpline 0800 5200 520

    Monday - Friday 9.00a.m. - 6.00p.m.

  • Nfk_gal0617
    Nfk_gal0617 Member Posts: 39
    edited 5. Apr 2023, 09:13

    Hi @SuziB , Just to say hello.

    Big toe very painful. Having had inflamation in my big toe myself at the age of 60, I can sympathize. My xrays also showed arthritic degeneration in the 1st MTJ. After ruling out various, inflammatory markers, gout etc via blood tests my GP put it down to Osteoarthritis. Nightmare, foot like a plank, only able to hobble, which in turn made my knee and hip ache. Only footware was good quality trainers or walking shoes, at least one size to big, still felt like waking on stones with red hot pokers of shooting pain, unable to sleep well.

    However it moved to my wrists, swolen one side for a few days then it would move lower down to the top of my hand, then in one toe in the left foot. Finally when one eye 10 months later became inflamed, I self researched, as you can these days, I got my GP to test for HLA B27 ( about the only test my GP had not carried out) which is an umbrella for various forms of inflammatory Arthritis, and is linked to Unterior Uveitis of the eye. Results positve. Lesson, do not assume osteoarthritis cannot live along-side of Inflammatory arthritis.

    X- rays do not lie - however I would be interesting to find out if a group of 60 year olds were X-rayed, what % would show, wear and tear, Osteoarthritis. I believe I'm correct in saying ( moderator?) that GPs mostly only refer to a Rheumatologist if they think it is Imflamatory arthritis, as these types are mostly auto immune and can be dampened down with drugs.

    Sorry I can not help with your three questions, but hopefully other members who have experience will be along soon to help.

    I do hope you get sorted correctly soon and the outcome is sucesseful. Take care, Nfk gal

  • SuziB
    SuziB Member Posts: 3
    edited 5. Apr 2023, 09:13

    Thanks @Poppyjane and @Nfk_gal0617 - both useful comments. Just still wondering what the next step might be. I've stopped walking any distances at all and wearing Fit Flop boots and the symptoms have subsided slightly; however I now have return of the fluttering and catching of the joint on walking. Even swimming is difficult which is non weight-bearing. I suppose it doesn't help that I put on 3.5 stone during lockdown which I'm finding very difficult to now lose. If anyone has had the injections I'd be really interested in hearing whether they helped or not.


    SuziB :)

  • Nfk_gal0617
    Nfk_gal0617 Member Posts: 39
    edited 5. Apr 2023, 09:12

    Hi @SuziB, Sorry you are in no-mans-land with where to go next. I was wondering if you posted under the heading toe fusion op, to get a more relevent reply, worth a try.

    My previous post was to emphasise that dispite having x rays that showed Osteo in my big toe. After several months the shooting pains calmed and although my toe no longer bends where it should, it stopped being painful. Well until the next flare anyhow. So hopefully your GP has done all the blood tests.

    During my hobbling days (still have to limit walking) I also put on weight nearly 2 stone, I think I was comfort eating because of being so fed up. Having had a comprehensive series of blood tests for an unrelated problem, blood sugar came back as being nearly pre diabetic at 41. At one of my Eye clinic appt, for an inflamatory flare, it was pointed out that sugar feeds inflamation. So since my blood sugar test result last year I have been desparatly trying cut down on sugar and reducing my carbs as much as poss. Wanting something I can sustain, I managed to loose 8lb by extending time between last meal at night and first meal of the day. Trying not to eat processed foods and adding more veg. (Time restricted eating - As per Prof Tim Spector of Kings).

    Today I started on Sulfalsazine which has to be taken after food, gradually working up from one tablet to four a day over the next four weeks. So TRE as a course of action is out of the window. I hope this does not undo all my hard work, I need to loose another 2 stone. Its not easy is it? We would not put it in a shopping bag and lug it around, but we do!

    Take care, Nfk gal