There's Help for Hallux Rigidus
Your big toe (hallux) can develop big problems, and although it’s only a small part of your body, it performs a big function. This toe helps you balance, and you use it to push off for every step – whether walking, running, or jumping. There have even been some cases where people who have lost a thumb have had one of their big toes grafted on in its place, allowing them full use of their hand again! No doubt about it, your big toe is an important digit, and when it has a problem it affects your comfort and mobility. Hallux rigidus, or stiff big toe, means that your toe can’t bend normally during walking, and it may become very painful.
What Happened to My Toe?
This condition is a type degenerative arthritis, which means that the lining between the bones is breaking down. Whether this is the result of an injury, or because overuse is causing wear and tear to the joint, the result is the same. The smooth cartilage between the ends of the bones begins to deteriorate and no longer cushions the bones during movement. They end up rubbing on each other, irritating the bone ends, causing inflammation, and possibly leading to the formation of bone spurs. If spurs grow between the bones, they block full movement of the joint as it moves. The result: a stiff joint, difficulty walking, and pain. You may even see a bunion-like protrusion on the top of your toe joint.
Why Do Certain People Develop Hallux Rigidus?
It seems to commonly affect adults between the ages of 30 and 60, and is related to overuse. If your job has you stooping or squatting, or you play a sport where toe injuries are common (like turf toe in football), you may be at risk for this condition. Even dancers, who often jump and land on their toes, can be at greater risk. Sometimes the condition runs in families, where the inherited foot structure causes an imbalance that puts more stress on the toe. This form of osteoarthritis often results from wear and tear on the joints over the years, or autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Whatever the cause, what you will notice is that you have lost range of motion in your toe.
Find Effective Treatment in Sammamish
If you notice stiffness in your toe joint and it hurts when you walk, it’s time to have it evaluated at The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic. Dr. Howard Schaengold has the expertise to diagnose your condition and find the best treatment for your situation. That may begin with simple home remedies like resting and keeping weight off the toe while it heals, applying ice packs, or doing gentle stretches to increase the toe’s range of motion. We may prescribe certain shoes with wider toe boxes to relieve the pressure on the toe, or with stiff soles or rocker bottoms to provide extra support. This will also keep the joint from bending so much while you walk. We can also prescribe the correct pain reliever for your particular needs. If all conservative treatments fail to relieve your pain and allow you to resume normal activity, surgery is an option to remove spurs, or to fuse or replace bones and joints.
Call us at the first sign of big toe stiffness and pain for the best results. People in the Sammamish, Bellevue, Issaquah, and Redmond, WA, areas can reach us at (425) 868-3338, or you can make an appointment on our website.