Hallux rigidus is a degenerative arthritis of the joint at the base of the big toe, or hallux. As with hallux limitus (which precedes hallux rigidus), wear and tear on the arthritic joint destroys the cartilage. This issue is more common among females, and is usually diagnosed in patients between the ages of 30 and 60.
As this condition progresses, the toe’s range of motion is reduced until it becomes rigid. Any normal activity that requires pushing off the big toe (walking, running, climbing stairs) will be painful due to the inflammation. An individual may even limp or experience hip, knee or lower back pain as a result of modifying their gait.
Conservative treatments may include the RICE method, NSAIDs, orthotic inserts, custom footwear, or corticosteroid injections. These measures are meant to control symptoms, but the only way to resolve hallux rigidus is through surgery.