Hallux Rigidis (rigid big toe)

When you have a stiff big toe, walking can become painful and difficult. An unmovable big toe (Hallux Rigidus) often is the most common form of arthritis in your foot, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

"Wear-and-tear" injuries also can wear down the articular cartilage, causing raw bone ends to rub together. A bone spur, or overgrowth, may develop on the top of the bone. This overgrowth can prevent the toe from bending as much as it needs to when you walk.

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the joint when you are active, especially as you push-off on the toes when you walk.
  • Swelling around the joint.
  • A bump, like a bunion or callus, that develops on the top of the foot.
  • Stiffness in the big toe and an inability to bend it up or down.

Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications often help to reduce swelling and ease the pain. Consult us before taking any medication. Applying ice packs or taking contrast baths (which use alternating cold and hot water to reduce inflammation) may also help reduce inflammation and control symptoms for a short period of time.

Invest in a stiff-soled shoe with a rocker or roller bottom design and possibly even a steel shank or metal brace in the sole. This type of shoe supports the foot when you walk and reduces the amount of bend in the big toe. Bone spurs, as well as a portion of the foot bone, may be surgically removed when damage is mild or moderate. The procedure also allows the toe more room to bend.

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