Rigid big toe (Hallux Rigidus)

This is a disorder of the joint at the base of the big toe. It causes pain and stiffness in the joint, and, with time, the toe gets increasingly hard to bend. Hallux rigidus is actually a form of degenerative arthritis

Common causes of hallux rigidus are faulty biomechanics and structural abnormalities of the foot.  For example, those with fallen arches or excessive pronation (rolling in) of the ankles are susceptible to developing the condition. For some people, hallux rigidus runs in the family, though it also often results from specific types of activity, such as jobs that increase the stress on the big toe (for example, jobs than require squatting or stooping). Hallux rigidus can also result from an injury, such as stubbing the toe, and can be caused by inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

Often, early treatment prevents the need for surgery in the future. Treatment for mild or moderate cases of hallux rigidus may include:

  • Shoe modifications. Shoes with a lot of toe room put less pressure on your toe.
  • Orthotics. Custom orthotic devices may help.
  • Medications. Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, may reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Injection therapy. Some people find that injections of corticosteroids help to reduce inflammation.
  • Physical therapy. Ultrasound or physical therapy treatment may provide temporary relief.

 In some cases, surgery is the only way to eliminate or reduce pain. Advice on the type of surgery needed should be provided by a foot specialist.