Hallux Rigidus - Causes & Treatment

What is Hallux Rigidus?

Hallux rigidus is a condition that affects the joint located at the base of the big toe. Hallux refers to the big toe, while rigidus refers to stiffness and rigidity and so hallux rigidus indicates stiffness that occurs in the big toe. This stiffness in the big toe causes pain and discomfort and it can get progressively harder to bend the toe with time.

Hallux rigidus fits into the broader category of conditions known as degenerative arthritis, which develops over time as the protective cartilage at the ends of the bones, where joints are located, wears down due to wear and tear. Given the amount of stress and pressure we exert on our feet on a daily basis while we walk, run, and exercise,  the big toe joint is a common joint where degenerative arthritis can occur and lead to hallux rigidus.  

We use our big toe every time we walk, climb up, or even stand on our feet, and it can be troubling and in some cases disabling when there is stiffness and pain in the big toe joint due to hallux rigidus. 

Due to the fact that hallux rigidus is a progressive condition, Dr.Syamak Yamini located in Porter Ranch, Encino, and Los Angeles, CA, sees patients with a wide range of hallux rigidus severity. In its earlier stage, the range of motion of the big toe is only slightly reduced, and the condition is specifically known as hallux limitus. However, as time progress and the joint goes through more wear-and-tear, the toe's range of motion lessens until it reaches the end stage of rigidus, where the big toe becomes very stiff, which is more formally known as a frozen joint. With this being said, the rate of progression of hallux rigidus varies from person to person, however, if it is detected in its earlier stages, its progression can potentially be slowed and more treatment options will be available at that stage. 

What Are the Causes of Hallux Rigidus?

The most common causes of hallux rigidus are defective function and structural abnormalities of the foot that can cause degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) in the big toe joint. Osteoarthritis develops in people who have defects that change the way their foot and big toe functions, which leads to increased amounts of wear and tear of the bones in the foot. Such foot defects include having low or collapsed arches or excessive rolling in of the ankles. Additionally, hallux rigidus may be genetically linked by inheriting a foot type that makes one more prone to developing this condition. 

In some cases, hallux rigidus may arise from excessive wear-and-tear and stress on the big toe due to high-impact activities and jobs that require one to stoop and squat repeatedly. In addition, hallux rigidus may result from an injury or trauma to the toe such stubbing of the toe. Other contributing factors of hallux rigidus include inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout. Dr.Syamak Yamini located in Porter Ranch, Encino, and Los Angeles, CA can perform a comprehensive exam to determine the cause(s) of your hallux rigidus. 

What Are the Symptoms of Hallux Rigidus?

Early Stage Symptoms:

As the condition progresses, additional symptoms may appear, including:

During your comprehensive examination, Dr.Syamak Yamini located in Porter Ranch, Encino, and Los Angeles, CA will review all your symptoms associated hallux rigidus to aid in formulating the best treatment plan for you. 

How is Hallux Rigidus Diagnosed? 

As with most medical conditions, the sooner hallux rigidus is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat it and slow down its progression as more treatment options are available at the earlier stages. For this reason, it would be most optimal to visit any of Dr.Syamak Yamini's offices located in Porter Ranch, Encino, or Los Angeles, CA as soon you noticed any pain or stiffness in your big toe. Unfortunately, if you delay your visit and wait until bone spurs develop, your condition may be more difficult to manage and fewer appropriate conservative treatment options may be available. 

In diagnosing hallux rigidus, Dr.Syamak Yamini located in Porter Ranch, Encino, and Los Angeles, CA may utilize on-site X-ray imaging to determine the extent of the arthritis in addition to evaluating any bone spurs or other abnormalities. Dr.Syamak Yamini may also conduct a physical exam to move the toe in order to determine its range of motion. 

What Are the Treatment Options?

For mild and moderate cases of hallux rigidus, various conservative treatment options are available that may prevent or postpone the need for surgery. These include:

In some cases, surgery is the most viable way to effectively address hallux rigidus. Several types of surgery are available for the treatment of hallux rigidus, and Dr.Syamak Yamini located in Porter Ranch, Encino, and Los Angeles, CA will consider the extent of your condition based on the X-ray findings, your age, activity level, and other factors to determine the best surgical intervention method for you.  

Syamak Yamini, DPM FACFAS Board Certified Foot and Ankle surgeon based in Porter Ranch, Encino, and Los Angeles

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