WHAT IS HALLUX RIGIDUS?
Hallux rigidus is a disorder of the joint located at the base of the big toe. It causes pain and stiffness in the joint, and with time, it gets increasingly harder to bend the toe. Hallux rigidus is actually a form of degenerative arthritis. This disorder can be very troubling and even disabling since we use the big toe whenever we walk, stoop down, climb up or even stand. Many patients confuse hallux rigidus with a bunion, which affects the same joint, but they are very different conditions requiring different treatment.
Because hallux rigidus is a progressive condition, the toe’s motion decreases as time goes on. In its earlier stage, when motion of the big toe is only somewhat limited, the condition is called hallux limitus. But as the problem advances, the toe’s range of motion gradually decreases until it potentially reaches the end stage of rigidus, in which the big toe becomes stiff or what is sometimes called a frozen joint.
In many cases, early treatment may prevent or postpone the need for surgery in the future. Treatment for mild or moderate cases of hallux rigidus may include: shoe modifications, orthotic devices, oral anti-inflammatory medications, injection therapy, and physical therapy.
In some cases, surgery is the only way to eliminate or reduce pain. Several types of surgery are available for treatment of hallux rigidus including: cheilectomy or shaving of bone, joint replacement, or joint fusion. The length of the recovery period will vary depending on the procedure or procedures performed.