The joint at the base of the great toe is the most common site for arthritis to occur in the foot. Through any of a number of causes, the joint cartilage may be damaged, causing the bones to rub against each other. When this happens, abnormal bone growth can occur, preventing the toe from bending properly. Walking can become painful and difficult. A stiff big toe most commonly develops between the ages of 30 and 60 and is characterized by pain with activity, swelling, stiffness and rigidity, and the development of a bump around the joint.
Ice, anti-inflammatory drugs, and special shoes may provide some relief and slow the development of the disease. Surgery can also provide long-term relief, either through removal of the abnormal bone, fusion of the joint, or joint replacement.