An estimated 54.4 million American adults were told they had some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia between 2013 and 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1).
Arthritis can affect any part of the body where joints exist and your toes are not an exception. In fact, toe arthritis is very common and many people suffer from this painful problem.
In most cases, toe arthritis attacks the big toe, but the other toes could be affected as well. Big toe arthritis, also known as hallux limitus or hallux rigidus, occurs when the big toe moves upward or begins to form bone spurs, which limits the range of motion of the toe.
Your risk of big toe arthritis increases as you age. This is mostly due to wear and tear. The risk is also higher if you have a family history of it or if you are obese.
Big toe arthritis usually starts with a stiffness of the joint and can be accompanied by swelling and redness. Other symptoms include enlargement of the joint, pain, difficulty wearing certain shoes, difficulty walking (especially when you first wake up in the morning), associated deformity, and soft tissue irritation or inflammation.
It is not at all unusual for patients to confuse bunions with big toe arthritis because both conditions can cause pain and a bump and enlargement at the big toe joint. But they are actually very different.
Big toe arthritis is easier to treat when the condition is diagnosed early. There are many simple, natural home remedies to treat this problem and reduce the discomforts.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for big toe arthritis.
1. Contrast Hydrotherapy
Both cold and warm water treatments, popularly known as hydrotherapy, can help reduce the discomforts of big toe arthritis.
While the warm water helps improve blood circulation in the affected area, the cold water helps reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Fill 2 small tubs – one with cold water and the other with warm water.
- First, soak the affected toe in warm water for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Then, put the toe in the cold water for 1 minute.
- Continue alternating steps 2 and 3 for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Repeat the treatment 3 or 4 times daily until you get relief.
Caution: Be careful to avoid extreme temperatures in the water.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is useful in relieving joint pain in the big toe due to arthritis. It helps remove the buildup of toxins in the joints and connective tissues, which is important to ease any kind of arthritic pain.
It also has anti-inflammatory and alkaline-forming properties that help reduce pain and stiffness in the joints.
- Mix equal amounts of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and lukewarm water in a foot tub. Soak your big toe in this solution for 30 minutes. When done, dry your foot thoroughly. Do it twice daily to notice an improvement in the pain and swelling.
- Also, mix 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar into a glass of warm water and add a little honey. Drink it twice daily.
3. Warm Oil Massage
Massaging the arthritis-affected big toe with some warm oil is another effective way to reduce the pain and inflammation.
Massage improves blood circulation and also encourages toxin drainage to reduce swelling.
- Warm up some olive or coconut oil in the microwave.
- Dab the warm oil on the affected area.
- Using your fingers, do deep-friction massage for 10 minutes.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times daily.
Caution: If massaging causes more pain, stop doing it and consult a doctor.
4. Cayenne Pepper
To deal with any kind of arthritic pain, cayenne pepper is very effective.
It contains the compound capsaicin, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that help get rid of the pain and treat big toe arthritis.
Cayenne pepper may initially cause a burning sensation, but it will go away quickly.
- Add ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder to 1 tablespoon of lukewarm coconut oil. Mix thoroughly, then apply it on the affected toe. Allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Rinse it off with lukewarm water. Do this 2 or 3 times a day.
- Alternatively, you can apply a capsaicin cream to the affected area daily.
Another common ingredient that can help treat arthritis in your big toe is ginger, which has natural anti-inflammatory properties.
Moreover, ginger helps block COX-2, a chemical in the body that causes pain.
- Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily. To make the tea, grate a small piece of ginger root and boil it in a cup of water for 10 minutes. Strain it and add a little honey.
- Also, you can massage the affected area 2 or 3 times a day with ginger oil to help reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
Turmeric is also effective for treating big toe arthritis. The compound curcumin in turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation and pain.
- For external use, mix a little olive oil and ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder to form a paste. Apply it on your big toe and cover it with a bandage for a couple of hours. Do it 2 or 3 times daily for several days.
- To promote internal healing, dissolve 1 teaspoon of turmeric in a glass of lukewarm water. Drink it twice daily to ease inflammation.
- Alternatively, you can take curcumin capsules, after consulting your doctor for the proper dosage.
Caution: Avoid consuming too much turmeric if you take blood-thinning medications or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).