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Hallux Limitus | Hallux Rigidus | Stiff Big Toe

Hallux Limitus | Hallux Rigidus | Stiff Big Toe

Hallux Limitus is a condition that results in loss of motion and stiffness in the big toe joint (Hallux is the medical term for your big toe).

Hallux Rigidus is the end condition of Hallux Limitus, a state in which your ability to create motion in your big toe is lost or extremely restricted.

halllux rigidus stiff big toe
Hallux Rigidus pre-op. Little to no motion in joint
hallux rigidus | stiff big toe
Hallux Rigidus post-op with implant to restore motion

Hallux Limitus/Hallux Rigidus is a progressive arthritic process which occurs within the cartilage of the bones that create the big toe joint. When you walk, your body weight is distributed through and out the end of this joint. If motion is limited in the joint, your gait will change as weight-bearing is transferred to the outside of your foot, which in turn requires other parts of your body to compensate. This places increased strain anywhere and everywhere from the opposite foot up through the shoulders and neck. Over time, these joints and tissues will become strained, creating pain and fatigue, calluses, foot ulcers, bone spurs, and other conditions.

Causes of Hallux Limitus

  • Congenital malformations of the bones which make up the first metatarsal-phalangeal joint.
  • Trauma (acute or repetitive, such as turf toe)
  • Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or gout

Symptoms of Hallux Limitus

  • Pain and stiffness in the joint at the base of the big toe when walking, bending, running, standing, etc.
  • Swelling and inflammation of the joint
  • Callus on side of big toe
  • Out-toeing (walking duck-like)

Symptoms of Hallux Rigidus

  • Bump or knot that looks like a bunion, but on the top of the big toe joint
  • Significant arthritis-type pain within the joint
  • Little to no motion in the joint
  • Swelling around the joint

Treatments for Hallux Rigidus and Hallux Limitus

Your podiatrist at PA Foot and Ankle Associates may recommend one or more of these treatments to manage your Hallux Rigidus or Hallux Limitus:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce pain and stiffness
  • Shoe modifications to add support
  • Exercises to stretch and loosen the big toe
  • Icing the sore joint after activity
  • Cortisone injections
  • Custom orthotic shoe inserts to take pressure off the big toe
  • Immobilization
  • If Hallux Rigidus is severe, surgery to restore motion


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PA Foot And Ankle Associates

Podiatrist, Foot Doctors in Allentown, Easton, Northampton, Lansford, PA