Arthritic big toe joints/ Hallux rigidus

What is Hallux rigidus?Stiff Toe

Arthritis in the big toe joint also known as hallux rigidus, causes stiffness, pain and an enlargement of the joint. This deformity can cause pain with walking, running and squatting. The bony bump at the big toe joint results from an arthritic growth due to joint destruction and reduced the movement available in the toe.

The big toe joint is one of the most common joints to be effected and can also be the first joint in the body to develop rheumatoid arthritis. The accurate assessment and diagnosis of this condition is critical to successful management. Hallux rigidus is often misdiagnosed as a bunion deformity due to the enlarged bump at the big toe joint. Bunion deformities and hallux rigidus can also coexist in moderate to severe cases.


What causes a bump and stiffness in the big toe joint?

The cause of arthritis in the big toe joint can include one or several reasons listed below:

  • Trauma
  • Any type of systemic arthritis such as rheumatoid, osteoarthritis and gout
  • Anatomically long or short 1st metatarsal bone
  • Excessive flexibility of foot joints
  • Abnormal foot function
  • Ill-fitting shoes
  • Sport and dance that lead to trauma such as football and ballet
  • Genetics
  • Previous surgery


Treatment for stiff toe joint

Arthritic changes to the joint are irreversible. However several treatment options are available for restoring normal activity and reducing pain. Dr Azarian is highly skilled and experienced in the management of such deformities and conditions. In most cases, lifestyle changes, customised orthotic inserts with specific modifications and a change in footwear make a big difference. In other cases Dr Azarian utilizes anti-inflammatory injections to provide relief. Severe cases can also be managed through non-surgical options to reduce pain. Management of underlying systemic arthritis may require care by a rheumatologist. If you are undergoing specialist care, we will contact your health providers to optimize management.


Surgery to fix toe arthritisFrozen Big Toe Joint

Surgery for Hallux rigidus also known as Hallux Limitus, aims to eliminate pain, reduce the size of the arthritic growth and restore functional movement where possible. The type of surgery will depend on the stage of the deformity. At the early mild stages a joint ‘clean up’ and removal of excess growth is enough and quite successful. In moderate cases a clean up and some re positioning of the bones and joint are needed to increase movement. In severe cases the joint is destroyed through the arthritic process and will either be partly removed, replaced or fused together. Dr Azarian will discuss your options with you based on the stage of your deformity.

Call us for expert advice on treatment for arthritis in big toe joints.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.





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  • (08) 9341 7770
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  • Karrinyup Medical Centre Unit 1/57 Burroughs road Karrinyup 6018 WA (Corner of Karrinyup Rd, opposite BP petrol station.
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 Perth Foot Surgeon & Podiatrist
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