Big Toe Stiffness – Hallux Rigidus/Limitus

Do you have a Hallux Rigidus, known as a big, stiff toe?

It is a degenerative condition, which as it worsens will prevent you from walking properly. It is a disorder of the joint on the base of your big toe. Hallux rigidus is a form of degenerative arthritis which arises from cartilage damage on the joint. It can be very painful and cause stiffness and total loss of movement.  A bony bump may develop on your large toe joint, as time goes on the condition can get worse because movement in the big toe is limited and it can become frozen.

Your first toe takes a lot of body weight and the pressure on this joint is great. As much as 50% of your body weight is propelled through your big toe whilst walking. You will suddenly find activities like walking or running difficult and you will get swelling and pain around the big toe joint. Cold and damp weather will affect the joint more adversely.

There are many causes of hallux rigidus such as:

  • Gradual deteriation of the joint due to age
  • History of trauma to the joint
  • Sports injury, like kicking a football
  • Infection of the joint
  • Gout
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

People who have fallen arches and excessive pronation (rolling inwards) of the ankles can lead to hallux rigidus.

Hallux Limitus

Is a deformity of the first metatarsophalangeal joint (mtp) or better known as a bunion joint that restricts movement and causes pain. It is often caused by arthritis and often there is a build up of bone spurs, you can experience pain when running or walking uphill. The bone in the big toe is jammed up against the metatarsal head causing inflammation and pain.

Tips to help relieve your big toe discomfort

  • You must wear good fitting shoes.
  • Avoid wearing high heeled shoes will make the problem much more painful.
  • Custom orthoses or temporary inserts may improve the function of your foot so you may need to see your Podiatrist for advice. By re-balancing your feet and redistributing your body’s forces, orthoses will help to alleviate the problem.
  • Home exercise program to help restore some movement in your big toe.
  • Podiatric treatment to help restore movement and break down adhesions around the joint.
  • Podiatric Acupuncture for pain management and to help rehabilitate the affected area.
  • Simple insoles to offload your feet.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling around the joint.
  • RICE – Rest, Ice ,Compression and Elevation

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Our aim is to help you in any way that we can.



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