We first need to understand the terminology.

“Hallux” refers to the big toe.

“Rigidus” refers to a decrease in movement of a joint.

Normal function of the joint at the base of the big toe

Limited motion of the big toe caused by hallux rigidus

Rigid deformity of the big toe caused by Hallux Rigidus

You can see that as the joint function decreases the space between the joints decreases. You can also see a deformation of the bone structure. This is because Hallux Rigidus is a form of degenerative arthritis. This condition will gradually get worse so it is important you correct the issues as soon as they begin.

How Is Hallux Rigidus caused?

There are a few main reasons why you may experience Hallux Rigidus.

  • Faulty biomechanics of the foot e.g fallen arches which lead to an increase amount of pressure through the big toe joint over time.
  • Trauma to big toe – A trauma or impact to the toe can cause damage to the joint & begin the inflammatory process.
  • Overuse of the big toe joint – often jobs that involve you being active and on your feet consistently can lead to this injury.
  • A result of other health conditions – People that have suffered from rheumatoid arthritis or gout may also experience hallux rigidus.

What are the symptoms of Hallux Rigidus?

  • Pain and swelling around the big toe
  • Difficulty running/jumping/squatting
  • Stiffness in the joint
  • You may also see conditions get worse during cold or damp weather

As the condition progresses you may also then see:

  • Pain even when sitting
  • Further decreased movement
  • Pain in the ankle/knee/hip as a result of compensation
  • Limping during walking

What treatments are available for Hallux Rigidus & What can I do?

If you think you have Hallux Rigidus these are your options moving forwards:

  • Some patients find relief from getting custom foot orthotics made, this will help to reduce the strain on the big toe joint
  • Anti-inflammatory medications or steroid injections may help to reduce inflammation/pain around the joint
  • See an Injury specialist who can diagnose the injury initially and then create a treatment plan. The treatment plan should focus on reducing inflammation around the toe joint, strengthening around your foot and arch.
  • Put ice around the area 2x a day and decrease all activities which put pressure on the big toe joint.
  • If you have tried all the above methods with still no relief sometimes surgery is required.

Sometimes it can be difficult to self diagnose an injury. So please if you are unsure contact a medical practitioner to assess your problem and recommend a future treatment plan.


Get In Touch

Send our injury therapists a message or give us a call using one of the following and we'll get back to you asap!

Covent Garden Injury Clinic: Jubilee Hall Gym, 30 The Piazza, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8BE

Northampton Injury Clinic: St Giles Physiotherapy, 38 York Road, Northampton, NN1 5QJ

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