Hallux Limitus/Rigidus

This article does not constitute as medical advice.
If you are experiencing symptoms, contact your doctor or make an appointment.

What is a Hallux Limitus/Rigidus?

Hallux Limitus is a form of arthritis. It occurs when the big toe cannot bend appropriately at the joint as you stand, walk, and run. ‘Hallux’ refers to the big toe, and ‘Limitus’ means limited movement. As the condition progresses, the narrow bending decreases further to become Hallux Rigidus (rigid). Be sure to contact your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms because the sooner this condition is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. At times, surgery is required. However, preventative treatment can delay or eliminate the operation.

Causes of Hallux Limitus/Rigidus

This condition occurs when the joint that connects the big toe to the foot is abnormal. Several instances can increase your risk of developing this deformity, such as: 

  • Hereditary: Some people are born with an elevated or extended metatarsal bone. Having this abnormal bone structure can limit the mobility of the joint.  
  • Arthritis: Hallux Rigidus is a form of degenerative arthritis. Inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis is can also bring on this ailment. 
  • Wear and Tear of Cartilage: People who have professions or play sports that put constant pressure on the big toe can develop Hallux Rigidus. Squatting, stooping, or pronating one’s ankles can lead to this situation. 
  • Bone Injuries: Stubbing, spraining, or breaking one’s toe can result in severely harming the joint. 

Symptoms of Hallux Limitus/Rigidus

Symptoms may be moderate at the beginning during Hallux Limitus but may slowly worsen to Hallux Rigidus. Be sure to be aware of these signs to catch this issue early on: 

  • Unable or difficulties flexing the big toe
  • Pain and stiffness in the joint that worsens during activities 
  • Swelling in the joint 
  • Discomfort and stiffness in cold weather
  • A lump on the top of your big toe joint or a callus under the joint

Treating Hallux Limitus/Rigidus

Preventative measures can be taken when the joint is in the Hallux Limitus stage. These treatments include:

  • Ice pack as relief for pain and swelling 2-3 times per day 
  • Shoes with orthotic support such as these Hallux Trainer Sport Insoles
  • Shoes with stiff or rocker-bottom soles 
  • Avoiding high heels or pumps 
  • Nonsteroid OTC anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Physical therapy recommended by our office 
  • Injection of corticosteroids.

When the joint has reached the Hallux Rigidus stage, surgery may be required for the effective treatment of pain and proper movement. 

Surgeries typically include shaving down bone spurs to allow for proper flexibility. 

Be sure to contact our office if you are experiencing any symptoms to avoid surgery! 

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