Hallux rigidus is the medical name for a stiff big toe. Arthritis sets into the joint at the base of the toe and causes pain, redness, swelling, stiffness, and, eventually, an inability to move the toe at all.
Hallux (meaning “big toe”) rigidus (meaning “rigid”) begins as hallux limitus, where the movement of the joint is limited, but it’s not completely immobile. Anytime you have pain that lasts for a long time, difficulty moving the toe, and bone spurs at the base of the big toe, chances are you’re a victim of this form of arthritis. Unless you treat it, hallux limitus is eventually going to progress to hallux rigidus.
What causes hallux limitus and hallux rigidus?
The overall cause is degenerative arthritis – normal wear and tear of the joint over time. That normal wear and tear might be accelerated by a previous injury, by genetics, and by the presence of other inflammatory diseases such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis.
4 ways to get relief:
One of the easiest ways to cope with this particular kind of wear-and-tear arthritis is to give the toe a lot of room. Modify your footwear, if necessary, by wearing shoes with a wider toe box. Lower heels will minimize the pressure on your big toe.
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help ease the pain. Our doctors may also opt to apply corticosteroids, injecting them directly into the affected joint.
Shoe inserts can be specially formed to your particular foot and your individual needs. We can measure you for such custom orthotics right here at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland.
In cases where you can’t get relief any other way, toe surgery is an option and may include fusion of the joint, total joint replacement, or removing of bone spurs.
Discuss all of these options by making an appointment with our expert podiatrists, Dr. Megan L. Oltmann and Dr. Craig B. Frey. Give us a call at (440) 903-1041. For your convenience, we’re open late on Mondays and are available on Saturdays as well at our state-of-the-art office in beautiful Solon, Ohio.