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Hallux Rigidus
(Arthritis of the joint at the base of the great toe)

What is Hallux Rigidus?

Hallux rigidus is arthritis of the joint at the base of the 1st toe. Hallux rigidus is a Latin term with the word “Hallux” meaning big toe and “rigidus” meaning stiff. It is usually caused by wear and tear arthritis (osteoarthritis) or a previous injury. It can affect both feet but you are not at any higher risk of arthritis in other joints of the body. 

What happens to the joint?

  • The smooth cartilage which allows the joint to move wears away (figure 1)
  • The bone in the joint is exposed and the joint becomes painful 
  • Large bumps of new bone (osteophyte) can be seen on the top of the joint (figure 2). They can be felt under the skin and can be painful
  • The joint is stiff and difficult to bend with movement being painful
  • The toe can rub against the shoes

What treatments are there for 1st toe arthritis?

There are simple treatments which do not involve an operation.

These include: 

  • wearing softer, wider fronted shoes with stiff soles 
  • padding over any bumps 
  • stiff insoles 
  • a rocker bar can be fitted to a shoe to reduce the need for the toe to bend

One of our specialist podiatrists will be able to give advice on these types of treatment. In the clinic x-rays are obtained to assess the extent of the disease and to help determine the best options for treatment. 

What about surgery for Hallux Rigidus?

Find out about surgical options >

Interested in treatment options?

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