Hallux Rigidus - Causes, Progression, Risk Factors & Treatment

Hallux Rigidus - Causes, Progression, Risk Factors & Treatment

Dec 24 , 2020

Erandika Mohanathasan

Tags - Hallux rigidus

Hallux Rigidus is a regressive arthritis which causes stiffness and pain in the big toe.

In particular, “hallux” means big toe and “rigidus” means rigid and becoming motionless.

Hallux Rigidus is a gradual scenario where it gets worse over time. For example: over time, the toe becomes motionless to the extent where even standing is agonizing and the pain becomes even more unbearable when the weather is cold and damp. 

Causes and Symptoms

When the articular cartilage at the big toe bone ends get impaired, due to wear and tear or an injury, it causes Hallux Rigidus. In addition, this scenario may lead to formation of bone spurs.

The symptoms are visible when toe joints swell and form a bump like callus, or bunion forming on top of the foot. As a result, this makes it difficult to wear normal shoes.

Confusion with Bunions

Hallux Rigidus is most commonly seen, second to bunion (Hallux Valgus).

In fact, many confuse between the two as they affect the same joint.

But, in terms of impact, they are different and therefore, they require different treatments.

Progression of Issues

The early stage of Hallux Rigidus is called Hallux limitus as the toe movement is limited and not fully rigid.

As mentioned above Hallux Rigidus gets worse over time, especially if you wait till bon spurs start to grow. From here on, the issue becomes harder to treat.

Therefore, consult your doctor as soon as you notice the symptoms, get it treated as soon as possible.

Here, X-rays are used to examine the Hallux Rigidus.

Risk Factors of Hallux Rigidus

1.Middle Aged And/Or Female

Hallux Rigidus is mostly diagnosed among adults aged between 30 and 60.

Among the patients diagnosed with Hallux Rigidus, 66% are women. Here, the exact reason for the higher impact on women is unknown.

2. Genes/ Family History

If a family member of yours has Hallux Rigidus, you are more likely to get it as you inherit the foot type.

In short, the foot type plays an important role in formation of Hallux Rigidus.

3. Foot Mechanics

Different foot structures increases the risk of getting Hallux Rigidus (such as different structures of metatarsal bone).

4. Injury and Overusing the Toe

Spraining the toe joint, stubbing the toe, fallen arches and ankle rolling could increase the risk of getting Hallux Rigidus. 

Overusing your toe, especially adding pressure to the big toe joining and wear and tear increases the risk of getting Hallux Rigidus too.

5. Medical Conditions

Medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout and other inflammatory issues cause Hallux Rigidus.


The initial non surgical treatments include

If none of non surgical treatments work then the doctor will advise to go ahead with surgery.

Further Considerations

The surgery is done based on

  • the extent of Hallux Rigidus (the deformity)
  • age of the patient
  • how active the patient is
  • how long it will take for the patient to recover depending on their medical history.

The different kinds of surgeries include

It takes upto 2 to 8 weeks to recover from the surgery.

Doctors always try their best to cure it using non surgical treatments, as Hallux Rigidus surgeries could lead to an infection or soft tissue instability or even an implant failure.

There is no way to prevent Hallux Rigidus,  but you could slow the process by applying heat and cold alternatively, soak your feet in warm and cold water, wear wide fit & comfortable shoes and exercise regularly.

To learn more, get in touch with us today.

In the meantime, check our ranges:

- Walking Shoes for Men

- Walking Shoes for Women

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