Hallux rigidus is a condition that’s usually associated with arthritis. It affects the joint located behind the toe, most notably the big toe, and it results in the inability to bend the toe. It is usually more difficult to bend the toe upward than it is to bend it downward.
What Causes Hallux Rigidus?
The exact cause of the condition is presently unknown, but certain situations are believed to exacerbate the problem, such as an imbalanced foot structure or function or a traumatic injury like jamming the toe. Those with low arches or flat feet are higher risk of developing hallux rigidus and heredity may also attribute to the condition’s occurrence. Regardless of what it is caused by, hallux rigidus is a progressive condition that will worsen over time if treatment is not administered.
Signs and Symptoms of Hallux Rigidus
Common signs and symptoms of hallux rigidus can include:
- Swelling around the joint at the base of the toe
- Pain and stiffness in the affected toe joint
- Increased limping
- Inability to wear certain types of footwear
As the condition worsens, the pain associated with it will also increase to the point that the patient will feel pain in the area even when at rest.
How is Hallux Rigidus Diagnosed?
Your foot and ankle surgeon will perform a thorough physical examination of your foot and toes followed in most cases by a diagnostic X-ray.
Hallux Rigidus Conservative Treatment Options
Because hallux rigidus is a progressive condition, the earlier a diagnosis is made, the better the chance of being able to treat this condition non-surgically. Conservative treatment options typically include:
- Orthotic shoe inserts
- Specially-designed shoe modifications
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Limitations on certain activities
When is Surgery Needed?
If the pain and deformity has not been relieved via conservative methods, then your foot and ankle surgeon may recommend surgery. Surgical options for hallux rigidus are determined by the severity of the condition. In less-severe cases surgery may consist of cleaning up and remodeling the joint. In severe cases, the joint may need to be completely replaced or fused. Other factors that may affect surgical options include the patient’s age, occupation, activity level, and overall physical condition.
Regardless of the case, your surgeon at Pennsylvania Foot and Ankle Associates will discuss all of the conservative and surgical treatment options available to you so you can make the most informed decision about your treatment plan.