Hallux Rigidus (Big Toe Joint Osteoarthritis)
Is the second most common big toe joint problem; hallux valgus (bunions) being the most common. The reasons for developing wear and tear (osteo) arthritis are not always clear although an episode of trauma such as a bad toe stub is sometimes all that is required. Obviously age plays a part too, with over 50% of over 60s suffering with osteoarthritis of one joint or more. Young adults can also suffer with this condition. The name hallux rigidus refers to the reduction in the range of motion in the joint (joint stiffness), which occurs as the arthritis inevitably progresses.
In our practice we use a recognised staging for the amount of arthritis, with stage I being early stage and stage IV being end or late stage arthritis. It is important to recognise that it is not curable but it is treatable. The joint can be inflamed and cortisone injections are often helpful, sometimes combined with a joint manipulation under anaesthetic (which can be undertaken at the centre as an outpatient. Other injection courses such as Ostenil can also be useful (see Injection Therapy). If the problem persists then surgery ranging from the removal of painful bone lumps (Cheilectomy procedure) through to joint replacement or fusion can be performed. All these procedures now have a good medical evidence base, with approximately 80-90% success rate for removing persistent and debilitating joint pain. See Information Leaflets (file P6) to read or download.