Hallux Rigidus AKA: Stiff Big Toe


If you are having difficulty bending your largest of toes you may have a condition that is actually called stiff big toe, or hallux rigidus, if you want to be formal. This condition can be caused when degenerative arthritis settles into the big toe joint, but it can also occur because of gout or flat feet. The wear and tear that time takes on your feet can be largely responsible for this condition.

Symptoms can be similar to those caused by a bunion, so diagnosis of this condition can be complicated. Since hallux rigidus often occurs gradually, the initial stages may only limit the movement of the toe a little bit and complete stiffness doesn’t occur until later. This initial stage is called hallux limitus, and is the best time to treat the condition before it gets worse. 

If you have a stiff and painful big toe, available treatments include the following:

  1. Steroid injections - This helps to improve movement and will require several injections to have the desired effect.
  2. Custom made orthotic inserts - These are used in addition to properly fitted shoes that have stiffer soles and improved support to decrease pressure on the big toe.
  3. Pain relief - Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen can help relieve pain and reduce swelling.

For more expert advice on hallux rigidus treatment seek the assistance of your foot care professional. At Fit Feet for Life, our team of board-certified podiatrists has access to advanced technologies and years of experience to help diagnose and treat a variety of foot and ankle problems, including heel pain, sports injuries, toe deformities, nail fungus, and plantar warts.  Bonnie Sanchez, DPM, and Gregory Cook, DPM, provide high-quality foot and ankle care to patients in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area at our five offices conveniently located in Sun City Center, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and our two Tampa locations. Please contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.