Arthritis of the great toe joint (Hallux Rigidus)


Hallux rigidus is a pain in the great toe joint characterized by swelling, redness, and discomfort. This pain often occurs without previous injury and slowly increases over time.  Another symptom of hallux rigidus is stiffness of the great toe. This will often cause difficulty in walking or running normally.


Hallux rigidus is caused by wear and tear to the great toe joint resulting in narrowing and erosion of the cartilage within the join. This process is caused by various processes including abnormal stresses inside the great toe joint due to the foot structure, trauma to the joint and inflammatory conditions such as gout.



The diagnosis of hallux rigidus is primarily made through a combination of the patients history, physical exam and x-ray findings. X-ray findings will include joint space narrowing, spurring of the bone around the joint and sclerosis or hardening of the bones beneath the joint.


Treatment of hallux rigidus is performed through a combination of rest, application of ice, taking of oral anti-inflammatory medication. Additionally, a cortisone injection is often performed to decrease inflammation and pain within the joint. If conservative treatments fail, surgery is often indicated and can vary from shaving down bone spurs to replacing or even fusing the joint depending on the severity of the condition.

Additional information can be found in regards to hallux rigidus with the following links: