Hallux Rigidus – Painful Big Toe Joint

My Stiff Big Toe

We often take our feet for granted – until they begin to hurt. These small parts of our bodies are so crucial for many of our activities that pain in any part of them can limit our ability to go about our daily lives. Something as small as a sore toe can affect how you walk, leading to an abnormal gait that affects your legs, hips, and back. You know how even a small pain can affect your mood and enjoyment of life. If you notice that your big toe isn’t able to move as well as it used to, or that you are altering your step because it hurts when you walk, it’s time to set up an appointment at My Chicago Foot Expert.

Arthritis in My Toe?

Arthritis can affect any joint in your body. Considering that there are 33 joints in your foot and ankle, this is a common site for the disease. Hallux rigidus literally means “stiff big toe” and is a form of arthritis that occurs in the joint at its base. Called the metatarsophalangeal joint, it is crucial because it bends with each step you take. If it stiffens up and becomes painful, you are not able to walk normally.

The exact reason that some people develop this toe problem and others don’t is not known. Some possibilities are inherited foot structure and biomechanics that make you more prone to it, or inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or gout. An injury to the toe, or overuse in a job or sport that has you stooping, running, jumping or generally putting a lot of stress on the joint, can also contribute to this problem. Whatever the cause, when the cartilage between the ends of the bones becomes worn down, the bones rub each other. This is painful by itself, and it is compounded when the friction leads to bone spurs that can impede the movement of the joint and increase pain even more.

Treatment for a Painful Big Toe Joint

Some people confuse this condition with a bunion, and think it is not serious (although bunions are best treated when caught early as well). The sooner you seek help, the better your prognosis will be. At the first sign of stiffness, decreased range of motion or pain, let Dr. Stavros Alexopoulos examine your foot to diagnose the exact problem. We can then help you decide if you can manage the problem with home care remedies, or if something more is needed.

Shoe modifications or custom orthotics have given relief to those who suffer with hallux rigidus, and sometimes anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers are recommended to some patients to reduce swelling and pain. Other treatments are corticosteroid injections and physical therapy–both help with pain and flexibility. In extreme cases, surgery may be the only way to relieve your problem. If this is recommended, you want an expert surgeon who understands feet well and has performed the different types of surgery used in various cases.

We have the expertise you are looking for, so don’t wait too long to access care. If your toe problem is limiting your activity in any way, call My Chicago Foot Expert at (773) 561-8100 and set up an appointment, or request one on our website. We want to help you back to good foot health and enjoying life as it is meant to be lived!