Hallux rigidus is a form of degenerative arthritis that occurs in the joint at the base of the big toe. People who have fallen arches or excessive pronation (rolling) of the ankle are more likely to develop hallux rigidus.
It most commonly affects people between the ages of 30 and 60, and can be inherited from family members with biomechanical abnormalities.
If your job requires that you stoop and squat, that can increase stress on the toes, which can develop into arthritis of the big toe.
Inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and gout can also cause arthritis of the big toe.
Early Signs and Symptoms
• Pain and Stiffness When Walking
• Pain When Running
As the condition progresses, the toe’s motion decreases until the big toe becomes stiff. This condition is known as a “frozen joint.” You may have constant pain in the toe joint, even when resting.
You may put on weight because it is too painful to exercise. Other parts of your foot may be painful since you’re shifting your weight off the big toe. Knees, hips, and your lower back may hurt due to changes in your walking gait, and you may start limping.
Your doctor can sometimes diagnose big toe arthritis just by looking at your foot. Laboratory tests will be ordered to rule out or confirm the presence of gout or rheumatoid arthritis. An x-ray is usually required to determine the extent of the degeneration in the toe.
Surgery is certainly an option, but you doctor may suggest you try non-surgical methods first. These methods include:
Padding your foot with a bunion guard
Wearing Orthotic inserts
Wearing stiff-soled shoes with a wide toe box
Calf stretching exercises
Having an injection of cortisone
Taking ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory
Taking glucosamine sulfate or chondroitin sulfate
Having a shoe repair shop stretch your shoes
Yes, having arthritis of the big toe is not on your favorites list, but take advantage of these tips and see which ones work best for you. It’s possible that you may be able to avoid surgery and still experience less pain.