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Hallux rigidus is the osteoarthritis of the big toe. In contrast to the hallux valgus where we find a significant deformation of the big toe but with a normal and painless mobility, in the hallux rigidus there is almost no deformation of the big toe but the mobility is very restricted and especially painful. This is due to cartilage degradation.
Osteoarthritis of the big toe may result from old trauma (shock, crushing, sprain, dislocation or fracture), rheumatoid disease (rheumatoid arthritis), or infection (bacterial arthritis), but most often is “idiopathic”: i.e., with no obvious cause in the present state of knowledge. It can affect all ages, genders and occupations.
No causal factors.
Diagnosis is not always straightforward. At first, the foot looks normal although the patient has pain walking. On examination, big toe motion is limited and, above all, painful. Sometimes, cartilage and bone debris accumulates (osteophytes) and deform the top of the toe, making footwear problematic. Standard foot X-ray easily reveals the osteoarthritis, in the form of joint impingement. Cartilage thickness is reduced, and the bone surfaces are in direct contact with one another.
Big-toe motion is restricted and painful.
Painful stiffness is the key symptom in osteoarthritis of the big toe. In hallux valgus, pain is caused by friction against shoewear, but here big-toe motion is almost always painful, on walking, running, standing on tip-toes, barefoot or not.
Pain walking, even barefoot.
Surgery is the real treatment, especially in advanced cases. Sometimes, we can shave off the excess bone around and above the toe. In other cases, bone cuts (osteotomies) are suitable, to treat painful impingement. Prostheses are rarely used, as results are not so good as in the hip or knee. In severe cases, the reference treatment is toe-joint fusion (arthrodesis): once fused, the toe can no longer move, but pain is completely and definitively abolished.
A few videos to better understand
Advanced painful osteoarthritis
Advanced painful osteoarthritis bis
-The first step is medical treatment. But this only serves to relieve pain, and does not stop the lesions worsening. Pain-killers make the disease easier to bear, but after a while this is not enough.
-Wide footwear and, especially, rigid soles can reduce pain at first.
-Cortisone injections in the joint provide some relief and help patients get through the worst moments.
-Viscosupplementation injections seem promising, according to the first studies.
After big-toe fusion (arthrodesis), you can wear high heels, walk, go hiking …Information about anesthesia