Hallux rigidus, which means “stiff big toe,” is a form of degenerative arthritis that affects the metatarsophalangeal joint – the large joint at the base of the big toe. It is the second most common disorder of the big toe after hallux valgus (bunions).

Hallux rigidus occurs in adolescents and adults and is most common in individuals between the ages of 30 and 60. It may develop because of overuse of the joint, from arthritis, or following an injury, such as stubbing the toe or spraining the joint (known as “turf toe” in athletes). The condition often runs in families.

Because hallux rigidus gets worse over time, standing and walking can become painful. The joint may swell and become inflamed, and pain and stiffness may be worse in cold, damp weather. Calluses or bunions may develop on top of the foot, making it difficult to find comfortable shoes.
Conservative treatment of hallux rigidus at Lancaster Orthopedic Group may include anti-inflammatory medications, recommendations for special shoes, and cortisone injections into the joint.

In severe cases, your physician may recommend surgery for hallux rigidus, such as a cheilectomy, which removes the bone spurs at the top of the joint, allowing the toe to bend better and relieve the pain.