Stiff, painful big toe joints.
Stiff, enlarged and painful big toe joints are very common and can lead to very debilitating pain and severe restriction in shoe wear choice. This can often lead to a premature end to sporting activities or even simple walking is eventually affected.
The condition is often called hallux limitus or hallux rigidus depending on the severity. It is actually a type of arthritis/arthrosis. It can be described as degenerative osteoarthritis. Typically it is caused by previous damage/ trauma to the big toe joint which may have occurred many years prior. The damage can also be as a result of poor foot function leading to gradual damage and degeneration of the joint surface.
The joint can often become large and prominent, particularly on the top of the joint.
Treatment can initially involve orthotics and shoe wear modification, however pain and degeneration often continues and surgery may be recommended.
Modern hallux limitus/rigidus surgery aims to return function to the joint following removal of the excess damaged bone. To prevent return of the problem a soft tissue flap of your own tissue which surrounds the joint is stitched over the damaged ends of the bones.
Rest and elevation are advised for 2 weeks at which time the stitches are typically removed and a return to a deep wide shoe follows at approximately 4 weeks. Early rehabilitation is advised via range of motion exercises. Full return to desired activity should follow rapidly.
In certain situations if the damage is too severe and the joint has been markedly damaged them the joint may need to be fused. This is done in a manner to allow for return to most desired activities. However certain activities and shoes may need to be avoided.