Hallux rigidus is a condition of the big toe (hallux) joint of the foot when the joint is rigid and is often associated with osteoarthritis. The big toe joint of the foot is actually quite an important joint in the body as it is required to bend so the leg can move ahead over the foot when walking. If something blocks the movement at that big toe joint, then forward movement will probably be a lot more difficult and stress will be put on other joints that have to flex more as that joint is simply not flexing enough. This could cause pain in the big toe or hallux joint as well as other joints. In addition, it will cause an excessive wear pattern on the footwear. The main cause of hallux rigidus is commonly a prior injury to the joint. After a while this sets up a process of abnormal use that brings about more damage and osteoarthritis to the joint. Inevitably the limited motion of the joint is further limited and the joint will become rigid with no movement possible.
The best way to deal with a hallux rigidus is proper therapy for the original trauma with good rehabilitation and the use of exercises in order to avoid or reduce the developments of the osteoarthritis. If the joint is painful, then medications and injections into the joint can be used for the pain. Using a firmer sole shoe is frequently useful as this decreases the demand on the joint to flex. Some footwear can also have a rocker added to them, in order that you pivot over the rocker and do not need to use the joint as much. If these conservative measures are not helpful, then the next step is surgical. There are various surgical alternatives for hallux rigidus. The simplest, if indicated, is to simply cut off some bone of the top of the joint to allow it to move more. If that’s not possible, then the joint may be surgically fused to stop it bending. This specific fusion deals with the symptoms from the osteoarthritis since the joint can no longer bend.