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Foot and Leg Conditions

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Hallus Rigidus

What Is Hallux Rigidus?

Hallux rigidus is a form of degenerative arthritis. It occurs in the joint located at the base of the big toe. Hallux rigidus is characterized by pain and stiffness in the big toe. Over time, the big toe becomes more stiff.

When a person has hallux rigidus, the cartilage in the joint located at the base of the big toe is wearing thin.

Hallux Rigidus is also called "Stiff Big Toe".

What Causes Hallux Rigidus?

There are several causes of hallux rigidus. Some common causes are:

  • Structural abnormalities of the foot
  • Overuse—especially among people engaged in activities or jobs that increase the stress on the big toe.
  • Injury, such as stubbing your toe.
  • Inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

Symptoms of Hallux Rigidus

Some common symptoms of Hallux Rigidus are:

  • Pain and stiffness in the big toe.
  • Pain and stiffness aggravated by cold, damp weather.
  • Swelling and inflammation around the joint located at the base of the big toe.

How is Hallux Rigidus Diagnosed?

If you believe you have hallux rigidus, talk to your doctor. Your doctor will examine your foot and take X-rays.

Can Hallux Rigidus be Treated?

Yes. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs, recommend a different type of shoe, suggest orthotic devices, or injections of corticosteriods. Injections of corticosteroids in small amounts are can help reduce the inflammation and pain. Ultrasound therapy and other types of physical therapy may also be prescribed. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.

Complications of Hallux Rigidus

A common complication of hallux rigidus is a bone spur. A bone spur is a bony projection that form along joints. They are often seen in conditions such as arthritis. Bone spurs are also called osteophytes.


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