What’s Wrong With My Toe ? Hallux Rigidus

Big toe

Since they are way down at our feet, we often take our toes for granted. But, our toes are important- especially our big toe! Without it — standing, walking, running, climbing, and bending down would all be difficult. If your big toe hurts and you find it difficult to bend, you may be asking yourself – what’s wrong with my toe ? It may be time to get your toe checked out- you could have Hallux Rigidus.

What Causes Hallux Rigidus?

This condition, which translates to “stiff big toe”, is a progressive condition that affects the ability to move your toe over time. Often mistaken for a bunion, hallux rigidus can occur in one or both big toes. There are many causes -it may develop because of overuse, injury or for some people it may run in their family. Osteoarthritis and inflammatory diseases can also trigger hallux rigidus.

What Are the Symptoms?

In most cases, the first symptom is pain on top of your big toe. The pain may become worse with activity and while wearing certain shoes. Other symptoms include stiffness in your big toe; trouble with activities like running; and swelling around the toe, especially during and after activity.

With hallux rigidus, the pain may progress and the stiffness could increase until your toe becomes rigid and unmoving. In later stages, pain during rest and the development of a bump (a bone spur) on the big toe may occur.

What Can I Do About it?

Your health care provider can diagnose this condition by testing the range of motion of your toe—how far it can bend up and down. X-rays can also show if there are any abnormalities in the bone or bone spur development.

Hallux Rigidus is best treated early, before the toe is completely rigid. Fortunately, nonsurgical treatment is often successful, when the condition is caught early.

Proper foot wear can help reduce the stress on your toe. Your big toe takes an estimated 40% of the force as you push off  on one foot before the other foot hits the ground. It is in this “toe off” phase that you are most likely to experience pain. Look for shoes with these features:

  • Wide, deep toe– the front of the shoe – prevents overcrowding of your toes
  • Firm mid-sole and secure laces or straps over the mid-portion of your foot
  • A “rocker” bottom style shoe that rises up in the front and allows you to “roll over” your big toe to reduce stress

Successful early treatment also includes:

• Icing your toe

• Pain relievers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as naproxen and ibuprofen to reduce swelling and lessen your pain

• A gentle wrap that helps stretch your toe and holds it in proper alignment

• Your doctor may also suggest corticosteroid injections or orthotic inserts for your shoes

Listening to your feet and toes is key to making sure they keep you on walking, hiking, dancing and kicking up your heels.

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Our blogs are presented for informational purposes only and are not to be considered medical advice. Because your condition is unique to you, it is recommended that you consult with your health care provider before attempting any medical or therapeutic intervention. We are happy to answer questions or comments pertaining to products mentioned in our blogs, however, we cannot provide a diagnosis or medical advice.

One comment on “What’s Wrong With My Toe ? Hallux Rigidus

  1. Thanks for helping me learn more about hallux rigidus. It’s interesting to think that this can cause your toe to become rigid and it should be treated very early. It definitely sounds beneficial to make sure you keep track of any symptoms early on or at least know more about some signs that indicate this problem so that you can get it treated quickly.

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