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Stiff Big Toes – Hallux Rigidus

If you try to move your toes back, and they do not flex, you can have Hallux Rigidius, or Stiff Big toes. Signs of this is when you are walking, and your toe hurts. It is a form of arthritis, where the cartilage in the toe has worn out. Your big toes bear a great deal of pressure as you walk. With every step, a force equal to about twice your body weight passes through this very small joint. The big toe is used every time we walk, bend down, climb up and even stand still. The condition varies in terms of stiffness, pain and loss of mobility. Some people will develop what is known as hallux limitus, where mobility is restricted rather than lost.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain and stiffness during movement
  • Problems with some activities such as running
  • Swelling and inflammation around the joint
  • Symptoms are worse during cold and damp weather

At a more advanced stage, symptoms include:

  • Pain when resting
  • Development of bony bumps (osteophyte) may develop on the top of the joint which can rub on shoes
  • People may walk on the outer side of the foot to avoid pain from the big toe. This can produce pain in the ball or outside of the foot.
The big toe can become what is known as a “frozen joint” when all movement is lost. At this end stage of hallux Rigidus, other related problems are likely to have developed in the foot.

Hallux Rigidus can start early in life, even during teenage years or the twenties. However, in the majority of cases, it does not get progressively worse. About 20 to 25 per cent of patients experience increasing stiffness and loss of mobility and are likely to require treatment.
This is caused and made worse by Having Flat feet, or fallen arches. People with rolling in of the feet when they walk, putting extra pressure on the toe. (It is also possible to have ankle pain in this case)
Some people may have a family history of the condition and inherit a foot type which is more prone. This can be caused by biomechanics, or musculoskeletal problems. This can also be triggered by injury, inflammation and infection.
This can be treated if caught early, without a need to go down the surgery route. Without fell biomechanical assessment, we can help you find a solution for this.

If not managed correctly, this can cause problems in the hips, knees and ankles, as this will change the natural walking pattern.
We can work with you to make sure that the right shoes are chosen, to minimise the pressure on the toes. With the right in-soles and orthotics, this can also remove a lot of stress on the toe. We can change your walking style (gait), so that we can minimise the impact of this on your feet, and the rest of your body.
Surgery and steroid injections is normally the final solutions, and we can make sure that it does not come to this. We can get you to get to a normal pattern, quickly and effectively.
It’s best not to ignore any foot pain that lasts longer than a few days. We will guide you on the next step to take, as well as help you with proper arch supports and padding. We can also make custom shoe insets and moulds, to remove and redistribute the pressure.
At Bucks Foot Clinic, we are here to make your feet work for you. We want the best solution for you. Call us for an appointment, and let us discuss what we can do together.

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