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Treatment Options for Hallux Rigidus

Author: Craig Payne
by Craig Payne
Posted: Jun 22, 2022
big toe

Pain in the big toe joint of the foot is often due to osteoarthritis. This often is called hallux rigidus. There are many different disorders of the big toe joint that could cause pain, with gout being another widely known one. Sometime the joint is totally rigid and other times it is not rigid, it just has a reduced range of motion that is less than the normal. The most common reason for a hallux rigidus is osteoarthritis in the joint. This osteoarthritis can come from years of wear and tear on the joint from a biomechanical problem with how the joint does not function how it should. The other cause of the osteoarthritis is a one off (or a few) trauma to the joint that do some damage to the joint and trigger the osteoarthritis to develop. Typically, the pain from this starts out as a minor ache, sometimes with an occasional sharp pain. Over time, it progressively gets worse and can become quite painful. It will also affect the way that you walk.

The treatments of hallux rigidus are somewhat limited as there is no cure for osteoarthritis. The first approach is management of the pain and this might involve injections into the joint and the taking of pain medications. This is going to probably work well in the short term but is not going to cure the problem. Shoes that are more rigid or have a rocker under them are help at restricting the movement in that big toe joint, but still allow for near to normal walking. You can also get a carbon fibre plate that can be put in the shoes to make them stiff so that when walking that big toe joint does not move. Foot orthotics are also often used and will often have a rocker or other design feature that the end under the big toe joint to also help restrict motion at the joint. There are also other types of pads that can be used and strapping of the big toe joint that can also be used to restrict movement of the joint.

Surgery is another option that can be considered for hallux rigidus. There are several different approaches that a surgeon could take. One is to simple fuse the joint. This will certainly stop the pain but will affect the way you walk around somewhat. It is still a good option. Another surgical approach is to remove some bone from around the joint to allow it to move a bit more freely. The third surgical option to replace the joint with and an artificial one or put a spacer in the joint so the arthritis on the joint surfaces is removed and the two joints surfaces move on that spacer. The choice of which of these options is something that the surgeon is going to have to decide based on how much damage has been done to the joint and how viable the bone around the joint is and how deep the joint disease goes.

About the Author

Craig Payne is a University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger and a dad.

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Author: Craig Payne
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Craig Payne

Member since: Aug 16, 2020
Published articles: 160

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