Hallux Rigidus

Pain and Stiffness of the Big Toe - Hallux Rigidus

Hallux rigidus is a disorder of the joint at the base of the big toe. This causes pain and stiffness of the joint, and over time, the big toe becomes much harder to bend.

Hallux rigidus should not be confused with a bunion, even though they do have similar symptoms because they will require different treatments.


Early signs and symptoms:

  • Pain and stiffness in the big toe while walking, standing or bending the toe
  • Pain and stiffness caused by cold or damp weather
  • Difficulty running or squatting down
  • Swelling and inflammation around the toe joint

Possible symptoms as the condition worsens:

  • Pain even while resting
  • Difficulty wearing shoes because bone overgrowth near the joint
  • Dull pain in the hip, knee or lower back due to changes in the way you walk
  • Limping

Nonsurgical Treatments

  • Choose different shoes – Shoes with a lot of room for your toes put less pressure on your joint. Stiffer bottoms of your shoes are also recommended.
  • Custom Orthotics – Custom orthotic shoe inserts can help improve foot function.
  • Medications – Ibuprofen can be used to decrease pain and inflammation.
  • Injections – Injections of corticosteroids can reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Physical Therapy – Ultrasound therapy and other types of physical therapy may be able to provide relief.