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Hallux Rigidus

Brett Cascio, M.D.

Hallux Rigidus

Hallux Rigidus

What is Hallux Rigidus

Hallux Rigidus is a degenerative condition in the big toe that causes stiffness and pain. Over time, these symptoms increase, leading the toe to become rigid and hard to bend. Hallux rigidus is a form of arthritis, also called hallux limitus or stiff big toe.

What causes Hallux Rigidus?

The joint at the base of the big toe is called the metatarsophalangeal, or MTP, joint. If the articular cartilage that covers the ends of the bones that meet in the MTP joint becomes damaged, it can cause bone to rub against bone. This can create a bone spur on top of the joint, which can make the toe stiff and difficult to bend. Because this joint bends with every step, this can make walking painful. The cause of hallux rigidus is not always known, but it may develop from injury or foot anatomy issues, like overpronation or fallen arches, that put more stress on the MTP joint.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Hallux rigidus symptoms vary depending on the severity of the condition, but can include stiffness and pain in the big toe while walking or in colder weather, inflammation, swelling and redness. Other symptoms may include trouble walking and lower back, hip, or knee pain.

How is Hallux Rigidus treated?

Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the condition. Conservative methods like injections, physical therapy exercises, prescription orthotics, medication to ease pain and swelling may help. However, if the condition is severe or does not respond to conservative options, surgery may be necessary.

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