Hallux rigidus is a condition that affects the big toe joint. It is a form of degenerative arthritis where the cartilage in the joint wears down over time, causing pain and stiffness in the big toe.
It’s common for people to first be introduced to Hallux Rigidus when they seek medical attention for persistent foot pain. A doctor or podiatrist will typically diagnose the condition based on the patient’s symptoms, a physical examination of the foot, and imaging tests like X-rays to observe the joint and surrounding bone structure.
Some key facts about hallux rigidus:
- It leads to limited motion and flexibility in the big toe, especially when bending it upward toward the shin. This is where the term “rigidus” comes from.
- It is often caused by an injury or trauma to the big toe joint, as well as certain foot conditions like bunions. Genetics and inflammatory conditions can also play a role.
- The condition progresses gradually. In mild cases, the toe may just be stiff and sore. In more advanced cases, bone spurs can develop and the toe may become severely rigid and painful.
- Symptoms include pain, tenderness, swelling, and loss of motion in the big toe joint. Pain is typically worse with movement like walking, running or squatting.
- Treatments aim to relieve pain and maintain motion. They include shoe modifications, toe spacers, NSAIDs, steroid injections, surgery in more severe cases.
- If left untreated, it can lead to more limited motion, change in gait, and pain that interferes with daily activities. Proper footwear and activity modifications can help slow progression.