Foot hallux rigidus

Osteoarthritis (pain and inflammation) of the foot

Foot hallux rigidus is a form of degenerative arthritis causing pain in the joint where your big toe joins your foot

About hallux rigidus in the foot

Foot hallux rigidus is a form of degenerative arthritis. It causes pain, inflammation and stiffness in the metatarsophalangeal joint, the joint where your big toe (the hallux) joins your foot.

It occurs most commonly in middle-aged men and both big toes may be affected. Sufferers may also have a bunion (a painful bony lump) on their big toe.

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of foot hallux rigidus? icon plus

    Your GP or consultant will examine your big toe to determine whether you have foot hallux rigidus. The most common symptoms are:

    • pain that may get worse in cold, damp weather
    • restriction in the range of motions of the big toe (stiffness)
    • bony growths (bunions) on the top of the big toe

    The pain you experience is progressive and over time, walking or even standing can be painful.

  • How is hallux rigidus diagnosed? icon plus

    Your GP or consultant will discuss your symptoms with you and examine your foot by testing the range of motion of the joint and how far the toe can bend up and down.

    An X-ray is usually recommended to determine the extent of your condition and whether there are any abnormalities in the bone or bone spur development (abnormal bone growth). Following your examination, the consultant will advise you if surgery is necessary.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment options depend on the extent of your condition, the amount of pain you are suffering and your overall health and fitness. Your GP or consultant will recommend the most appropriate treatment for you and these may include:

    • Non-surgical treatment (orthotics) to reduce the pressure on the big toe during walking. This involves modifying your shoes by adding a subtle 'rocker' to the sole so it doesn't bend, and also stiffening the sole.
    • Surgery, there are a number of options your consultant will discuss these with you:
      • injection/manipulation
      • minimally invasive arthroscopic debridement
      • open debridement
      • Kellers/Hamiltons arthroplasty
      • fusion and replacement.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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