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Toll-Free: 855-997-2367
Phone: 540-904-1458
Shenandoah Podiatry
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Toll Free: 855-997-2367
Roanoke: 540-904-1458

Hallux Rigidus (Big Toe Joint Disorder)

What is Hallux Rigidus? Hallus Rigidus is a disorder of the joint located at the base of the big toe. It causes stiff pain and stiffness in the joint, and with time it gets increasingly harder to bend the toe. “Hallux” refers to the big toe, while “rigidus” indicates that the toe is rigid and cannot move. Hallux Rigidus is actually a form of degenerative arthritis.

Causes: Common causes are faulty function (biomechanics) and structural abnormalities of the foot that can lead to osteoarthritis in the big toe joint. This type of arthritis- the kind that results from “wear and tear”- often develops in people who have defects that change the way their foot and big toe functions. For example, those with fallen arches or excessive pronation (rolling in) of the ankles are susceptible to developing hallux rigidus.

Symptoms: Early signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the big toe during use (walking, standing, bending, etc.)

  • Pain and stiffness aggravated by cold, damp weather

  • Difficulty with certain activities (running, squatting)

  • Swelling and inflammation around the joint

As the disorder gets more serious, additional symptoms may develop, including:

  • Pain, even during rest

  • Difficulty wearing shoes because bone spurs (overgrowths) develop

  • Dull pain in the hip, knee or lower back due to changes in the way you walk

  • Limping (in severe cases)

The sooner this condition is diagnoses, the easier it is to treat. Therefore, the best time to see 
a podiatrist is when you first notice symptoms. If you wait until bone spurs develop, your
condition is likely to be more difficult to manage. In diagnosing hallux rigidus, the podiatrist will examine your feet and move the toe to determine how much arthritis is present as well as to evaluate any bone spurs or other abnormalities that may have formed.