Hallux Rigidus (stiffened big toe)

The joint between the big toe (hallux) and the long bone (metatarsal) it is connected to what is called the metatarsophalangeal joint. This joint is essential in walking as it is the joint used during toe-off.

When this joint begins to break down, typically due to arthritis, the two ends of the bones rub together, causing pain. Other factors that may cause a stiffened big toe include variations in anatomical structures, biomechanical anomalies such as excessive pronation, flat feet, overuse, or trauma.

If left untreated, motion in the joint gradually decreases until the joint is completely immobilised as a result of joint destruction and bone spur formation.


Narrowing of the joint space of the big toe (as compared to the other joint spaces)



















Signs and Symptoms

  • The stiffness of the big toe
  • Pain during walking
  • Pain that is made worse by cold
  • Difficulty walking
  • Inflammation and swelling around the joint
  • Knee, hip, or lower back pain

Latest Research Links:

Current Concepts Review: Hallux Rigidus

Weightbearing CT Scan Assessment of Foot Alignment in Patients With Hallux Rigidus

Kardem Kiter

Article by Kardem Kiter, specialist podiatrist at Family Podiatry Centre

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