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Big Toe Arthritis

Hallux (big toe) Limitus (limited movement) is a condition where the big toe is limited in its movement – Hallux Rigidus is where the big toe cannot bend at all.

The condition is often not painful at the big toe joint, but the change in walking pattern causes pain in the knee and along the outside of the leg into the hip. In some cases where the arthritic change has progressed there will be pain in the joint associated with bone rubbing where the joint space has become eroded.

Symptoms of Big Toe Arthritis

Normal function and range of movement in the big toe is important for normal gait and without it your walking pattern becomes abnormal as your big toe cannot move properly to propel the body forward as it should. Imagine walking in very stiff new leather shoes and you will get an idea of what walking with limited movement in your big toe is like. This limited motion will cause the toe joint to jam and over time this damages the joint and leads to arthritis.

Big Toe Arthritis Treatment

Depending on the movement and the pain in the joint the condition will normally be treated using an orthotic to reduce the loading from this area during normal walking and in so doing, attempt to reduce the stress in the knee, leg and hip.

Surgery is not a great option for most as you should expect to be off your feet for 6 weeks with realistically another 4-6 weeks before you are wearing work shoes or driving comfortably. Surgery should be considered when all conservative options have failed.

You should expect to get some information about shoes that you may not like – i.e. you may need to consider changing the type of shoes that you wear in order to reduce the pain in the area. While orthotics will help reduce the pain in this condition, it is important to understand that because of the level of damage to the joint, pain may return from time to time, however management with orthotics and appropriate footwear will help reduce the level of pain as much as is possible.

Our Expertise

Our team will assess the level of damage to the joint, decide whether it is boney or soft tissue and can be manipulated a little, and then decide on a treatment plan. The level of damage and pain in the joint will determine how it is best treated, and we will be able to offer advice on conservative and surgical treatment options.