The word hallux is medical speak for your big toe, so it stands to reason that hallux limitus and hallux rigidus are conditions that affect your big toe. Both conditions affect mobility in the digit, which can cause problems since a healthy big toe typically possesses between 60 and 90 degrees of dorsiflexion. Today, we take a closer look at hallux limitus and hallux rigidus, and we explain what you can do to prevent and treat these conditions.
Hallux Limitus And Hallux Rigidus
If we think of hallux rigidus as diabetes, than hallux limitus would be considered pre-diabetes. Hallux limitus is the initial stages of hallux rigidus. As the name implies, limitus suggests that their is limited mobility in your big toe. When hallux limitus sets in, it affects the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint in your big toe, which is the joint that connects the toe to the first metatarsal bone in your midfoot. It is characterized by minor to mild loss of extension in your great toe.
Hallux rigidus is the endstage of hallux limitus, and is characterized by severe or total loss in mobility of a person’s big toe, and there is generally some erosion of the joint cartilage in the MTP joint. Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease will also be present. Essentially, the joint cartilage wears down to the point where it’s almost non-existent, rendering the toe mostly if not completely immobile.
Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Any of the following factors can cause damage to the cartilage in the MTP joint and start the process of hallux limitus or rigidus:
Inflammatory diseases like gout or rheumatoid arthritis
Improper foot biomechanics
Symptoms of both conditions include pain, stiffness, swelling and difficultly walking.
Treatment for the condition will be non-surgical, and it will be aimed at preventing further loss of the joint cartilage. This is typically done through conservative options like physical therapy, toe stretching exercises, anti-inflammatory medications, avoiding overuse during activity and ensuring that your shoes allow for adequate space at the front so the big toe is not compressed or bent when wearing.