Hallux Rigidus (Stiff Big Toe)


This is a type of arthritis that affects the base of the big toe. It forms in the metatarsophalangeal joint (we call it the "MTP" joint). With hallux rigidus, the protective cartilage on the ends of these bones wears away. Bone rubs against bone. Bony growths called "bone spurs" may form. Your toe stiffens, and this can make walking uncomfortable.


We don't fully understand what causes this arthritis. It may be caused by overuse. It may be linked to a foot injury or other problem. It may be linked to a certain type of foot anatomy that puts stress on the MTP joint.


Hallux rigidus tends to develop between the ages of 30 and 60. It causes pain and stiffness. You may not be able to bend the toe up or down. The joint may swell. Your toe may hurt more with activity. A callus may form on the top of your foot just behind the toe.


Treatment may include medications and shoes that support your toe. You may need to limit activities that make your toe hurt. If these don't help, you may benefit from surgery. Your healthcare provider will create a plan that's right for you.