Diagnosing and Treating Hallux Rigidus

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You started noticing a while ago that your big toe joint felt a little stiff, especially on damp days. Then it began to hurt when you would squat down or play basketball or run. As time goes on you’re feeling more pain in the joint, even when you’re not on your feet and sometimes it swells up a bit too. These are all signs of a condition known as hallux rigidus, and one that we at Texas Foot Specialists want to encourage our patients to seek treatment for sooner rather than later.

Prompt Attention Needed

Hallux rigidus is a form of arthritis. It is progressively degenerative and can lead to severe disability. Initially, the range of motion of the toe may be decreased and painful, but over time the joint can actually become frozen and unable to bend, greatly impeding daily activities like walking, climbing stairs and bending down. That’s why it’s important that you make an appointment at our Houston (713-664-6677), Pasadena (281-991-0600) or Sugar Land (281-242-4448) office if you notice any of the above symptoms. Our podiatrists Dr. Gregory Mangum and Dr. Bruce Miller will examine your big toe and the rest of your foot. The foot doctor will assess the range of motion in the big toe and may want to take x-rays to see the progression of the arthritis as well as to see if any bone spurs or other abnormal features are present.

Treatment Options

When caught in its early stages, there are a number of nonsurgical options available for relieving pain and slowing the progression of the arthritis. These include:

  • Medications—nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and/or corticosteroid injections may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Shoe changes—choosing footwear with a roomy toe box may reduce pressure on your toe. Stiff or rocker-bottom soles may provide additional stability and protection. In some cases, the foot doctor may recommend a custom orthotic device to help compensate for a biomechanical issue with the foot that is contributing to the joint problem.
  • Physical therapy—different types of exercise, stretching and other therapies may bring pain relief and increase range of motion

If you have additional questions about hallux rigidus or are concerned that you may have this condition, please contact us today.