Stride Orthopaedics and Footwear


Hallux limitus/rigidus is a disorder of the joint located at the base of the big toe. It causes pain and stiffness in the big toe, and with time it gets increasingly harder to bend the toe. "Hallux" refers to the big toe, while "litus" indicates that the range of motion of the joint is limited, and "rigidus" indicates that the toe is rigid and cannot move. Hallux rigidus is actually a form of degenerative arthritis (a wearing out of the cartilage within the joint that occurs in the foot and other parts of the body).

Because hallux rigidus is a progressive condition, the toe's motion decreases as time goes on. In its earlier stage, motion of the big toe is only somewhat limited—at that point, the condition is called “hallux limitus.” But as the problem advances, the toe's range of motion gradually decreases until it potentially reaches the end stage of "rigidus"— where the big toe becomes stiff, or what is sometimes called a "frozen joint." Other problems are also likely to occur as the disorder progresses.

Early signs and symptoms include pain and stiffness in the big toe during use (walking, standing, bending, etc.), pain and stiffness aggravated by cold, damp weather, difficulty with certain activities (running, squatting) andswelling and inflammation around the joint.

As the disorder gets more serious, additional symptoms may develop, including:pain, even during rest, difficulty wearing shoes because bone spurs (overgrowths) develop. Wearing high-heeled shoes can be particularly difficult.  Dull pain in the hip, knee, or lower back due to changes in the way you walk, and finally imping, in severe cases.

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