Hallux rigidus is stiffness and pain in the big toe joint while walking. It is usually caused by arthritis and can affect patients of all ages.
Often patients lose the ability to lift their big toe upwards. Or the toe becomes so stiff that it cannot lie flat in your shoe.
How is hallux rigidus treated?
In the first instance patients are usually advised to take over the counter pain relief such as paracetamol. If this does not relieve your symptoms your GP may prescribe a stronger medication or anti-inflammatory medication.
If pain killers do not relieve your symptoms, steroid injections mixed with an anaesthetic may be effective. These can usually be given in an outpatient clinic.
An orthotist (someone who makes surgical appliances) or podiatrist may recommend an insole for your shoe that stiffens the sole so it does not bend while you are walking.
If conservative treatment methods are not affective your GP may refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon.
What operations can relieve hallux rigidus?
If only the upper part of your foot is stiff your consultant may recommend a cheilectomy to remove any bone spurs (lumps) and clean out your toe joint restoring your range of motion.
In addition your consultant may reshape the large bone in your big toe either during a cheilectomy or as a separate procedure. This can usually be done as a day case procedure.
Toe fusion is also an option for young, very active patients or those who work doing heavy, manual jobs. In some cases toe joint replacement may be an option.