Foot Health

Diagnosed Hallux Rigidus and got cortisone shot, what do I do next?

Hallux rigidus is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the big toe joint. It is most common in people over the age of 40, but it can also affect younger people. The condition is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joint, which leads to inflammation and pain.

A cortisone shot is a common treatment for hallux rigidus. Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that can help to reduce pain and inflammation in the joint.

After getting a cortisone shot, you should expect to see some improvement in your pain within a few days. However, it may take several weeks for the full effects of the shot to take place.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help manage your pain and improve your mobility:

Wear Supportive Shoes

Footwear plays a vital role in managing hallux rigidus. Shoes that offer good arch support can help distribute weight evenly across your foot, reducing the pressure exerted on the big toe. A stiff sole, particularly one with a rocker-bottom design, can limit the range of motion of the toe during walking, thus reducing pain and inflammation. The stiff sole acts as a lever, enabling the foot to roll forward without requiring the big toe joint to flex excessively. Opting for shoes with a spacious toe box can also provide your toes with ample room, preventing them from cramping and rubbing against the shoe, which can lead to additional discomfort.

Use Ice or Heat

Utilizing ice or heat can be an effective home remedy for alleviating symptoms associated with hallux rigidus. Ice therapy, or cryotherapy, is particularly useful for reducing inflammation and numbing the painful area. You can apply an ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the affected area for about 15 minutes at a time, multiple times a day. On the other hand, heat therapy can help relax the muscles around the toe and increase circulation, promoting healing. Soaking the foot in warm water or using a warm compress can bring about relief.


Rest is an integral part of the recovery process. If you’re experiencing severe pain, it’s crucial to lessen the load on your foot for a few days. By minimizing activities that exacerbate the pain, such as prolonged walking or standing, you’re allowing the inflamed joint some much-needed recovery time. During this period, elevate the foot when possible to help reduce swelling.


Stretching exercises are beneficial in managing hallux rigidus by improving the joint’s flexibility and range of motion. Gentle stretching can help prevent stiffness and strengthen the muscles around the joint, providing better support. One common stretch involves sitting with your ankle on your opposite knee, then gently pulling the big toe up and down to encourage movement. It’s important to remember that stretches should not cause pain – if they do, you’re likely overstretching. Always consult with your healthcare provider or a physical therapist to ensure you’re doing these exercises correctly and safely.

If your pain does not improve after a few weeks, you may need to consider other treatment options, such as surgery.

Additional tips for managing hallux rigidus:

Avoid activities that put stress on your big toe joint. This includes activities such as running, jumping, and high-impact sports.

When you run or jump, your big toe joint is subjected to a lot of stress. This can aggravate the condition and make the pain worse. If you are experiencing pain in your big toe joint, it is important to avoid these activities until the pain has subsided.

If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can help to reduce the stress on your big toe joint. This is because excess weight puts additional stress on all of your joints, including your big toe joint. Losing weight can help to relieve the pain and improve your mobility.

See a physical therapist. A physical therapist can help you develop exercises to improve your range of motion and strength in the joint.

A physical therapist can help you develop a personalized exercise program that will help to improve your range of motion and strength in the big toe joint. This can help to reduce the pain and improve your ability to function.

Here are some specific exercises that a physical therapist might recommend:

Toe stretches: These stretches can help to improve the range of motion in the big toe joint. To do a toe stretch, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Gently bend your big toe up towards your nose, then down towards the ground. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.

Strengthening exercises: These exercises can help to strengthen the muscles around the big toe joint. To do a strengthening exercise, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Hold a small weight in your hand and gently curl your toes around it. Hold for 3 seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times.

These are just a few examples of the exercises that a physical therapist might recommend. The specific exercises that you will do will depend on your individual needs and goals.

With the right treatment and precautions, you should be able to manage your hallux rigidus and continue to enjoy your favorite activities.