Stiff big toe, also known as hallux rigidus, is an arthritic condition in the big toe that causes the joint to stiffen. Because the big toe is so involved in movement of the feet, hallux rigidus can make walking painful and difficult. The big toe is the most common site of arthritis in the foot. The joint in the big toe is referred to as the first metatarsophalangeal or MTP joint. Every time you take a step, the MTP joint bends to help maintain proper balance and weight displacement in the foot. Like any other joint, the MTP joint is protected by smooth cartilage. This prevents the connecting bones from rubbing together painfully. When injury, disease or normal wear and tear damage the cartilage, painful and debilitating symptoms can result.
Stiff Big Toe Symptoms
The symptoms of stiff big toe or hallux rigidus include:
Stiff Big Toe Causes
There are many theories about what causes hallux rigidus. Risk factors and possible causes of stiff big toe include:
Stiff Big Toe Diagnosis
After your doctor gathers your full medical history, a physical exam is performed. During the exam your doctor will inquire about your concerns and the severity, location and frequency of your symptoms. Diagnostic procedures such as x-rays and MRIs will most likely be used to diagnose and determine the extent of the disease.
Treatments for stiff big toe depend upon the severity of the condition and range from nonsurgical treatment such as anti-inflammatory medication and shoe modification to joint reconstruction surgery.
The multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic experts at North Shore-LIJ Orthopaedic Institute's Foot and Ankle Services in New York treats stiff big toe, or hallux rigidus as well as a broad range of foot and ankle conditions that can occur at any stage of life.