Hallux Rigidus (stiffened big toe)
Experiencing a painful and stiff big toe is a likely symptom of this condition. The “hallux” – the anatomical term for the big toe – can develop arthritic changes with time and use. The joint which allows the toe the bend forwards and backwards is lubricated by smooth, articular cartilage. Wear and tear or injury to this said cartilage can diminish its presence and function, leading to bone-on-bone rubbing. Mobility of the joint reduces and can turn symptomatic. Pain can be experienced with even slight or minimal movement to the joint. The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society have found that is the most common arthritic condition of the foot, affecting 1 in 40 people over the age of 50. Females are often more predisposed to developing this condition than males, whereby the typical onset is adults age 30 and above. This condition is frequently accompanied by a hard bump on the top of the toe, swelling around the big toe joint or a bunion. Trauma to the area, poor choices of footwear, overuse, family history and foot-type can cause this problem. Rheumatoid arthritis and persistent gout attacks are also contributing factors. Physical examinations alongside x-ray imaging are accurate tools to confirm the diagnosis of this condition.
This condition is progressive and will worsen over time. Mild pain is often experienced in the early stages of its development. Preventing and arresting this problem at its budding phase is important. Footwear which is soft and flexible should be avoided. A firm sole will reduce motion in the joint, hence, reducing pain. High heeled shoes are to be avoided as well to prevent further excessive pressure onto the joint.