What Is Hallux Rigidus and How Does It Differ From Hallux Valgus?
Hallux rigidus is a somewhat common foot disorder that affects the joint located at the base of the big toe. It can also be misunderstood and believed to be Hallux Valugs, or a bunion. Hallux rigidus causes pain and stiffness in the joint. Hallux rigidus is technically a form of degenerative arthritis. With time many patients find that it gets increasingly harder to bend the big toe. “Hallux” itself refers to the big toe, while “rigidus” means rigid and that it cannot properly move.
Hallux rigidus can be very troubling for the patient and lead to mobility issues and disability due to the fact we use our big toe whenever we are walking, stooping down, climbing up or even standing around. Many patients confuse hallux rigidus with a bunion (medically referred to as hallux valgus), however, they are not the same thing, just simply affect the same joint.
Hallux rigidus is a progressive condition, meaning the patient’s toe will decrease mobility over time, causing a lack of motion. In its earlier stage, known as hallux limitus, the big toe is only somewhat limited. As the problem advances, however, the big toe’s range of motion gradually decreases until it reaches the end stage of hallux rigidus. Starting treatment as early as possible is important for reducing the severity of hallux rigidus just as with hallux valgus.
What Causes Hallux Rigidus?
Hallux rigidus is often caused due to faulty biomechanics and structural abnormalities of the foot. This leads to osteoarthritis in the big toe joint. Fallen arches, excessive pronation and other issues are common causes. Overuse can also be a common cause of hallux rigidus, especially in those that stoop or squat. Injury can also cause hallux rigidus along with inflammation, unlike hallux valgus.
It is important to see a specialist to determine the exact cause of your issue. Depending upon what has lead to your hallux rigidus, various treatment options may be available. In extreme cases, surgery may even be recommended to reduce symptoms. In less severe cases, modifications to shoes, wearing specialized devices and even balms can be useful in reducing the discomfort and damage.
Symptoms of Hallux Rigidus
When it comes to hallux rigidus, there are some common symptoms you can look out for, including:
- 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)
- Swelling and inflammation around the joint
As the condition continues to progress, patients will begin to experience more severe symptoms that often plague those suffering from hallux valgus, such as:
- Pain, even during rest
- Difficulty wearing shoes because bone spurs (overgrowths) develop
- Dull pain in the hip, knee or lower back due to changes in the way you walk
- Limping (in severe cases)
Bunion Treatment for Hallux Rigidus
Although bunions and hallux rigidus are not the same issue, modifications to footwear and certain devices can help ease symptoms. We offer bunion booties for bunion treatment that can also help to relieve some of the pain experienced due to hallux rigidus, specifically the bone spurs that rub inside many forms of footwear. Essential oils and bunion balm may also be useful in reducing any damage due to the condition. Order your bunion treatment for Hallux Rigidus today!