A stiff big toe that is painful to move is a sign of degenerative arthritis and is known as hallux limitus. It can be a disabling condition preventing patients from walking normally and performing their daily activities. Hallux limitus is a progressive condition that gets worse overtime and can eventually lead to a “rigid” toe that patients describe as a “frozen big toe.”
Hallux limitus can be caused by:
Abnormal foot structure or biomechanics
Overuse or wear and tear of the joint
Inflammatory diseases – ex. Rheumatoid arthritis, Gout
Symptoms and treatment of hallux limitus vary depending on the stage of the condition. Early stage symptoms include pain and stiffness when walking, standing for extended periods of time or squatting. Later stages present with swelling of the big toe, difficulty wearing shoes, formation of a bump on top of the toe as well as stiffness.
Treatment options include the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, custom orthotics, shoe modifications and corticosteroid injections. In some cases surgery may be an option to reduce pain. Surgical options include:
Cleaning the joint and removing pieces of bone that limit motion
Fusing the big toe to prevent further degeneration of the joint
Replacing the joint of the big toe with an implant
If you are experiencing pain or stiffness in your big toe come see our physicians at the Foot & Ankle Doctors, Inc.