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Hallux Limitus and Rigidus

The term “hallux” comes from the late Latin word “allux” meaning big toe. Hallux is used widely across the medical field and especially in podiatric medicine.  Hallux limitus or rigidus refers to either the decreased range of motion (limitus) or absent (rigidus) range of motion. Hallux movement is necessary during walking or running to put the foot in a position to push off of the ground move us forward. Limiting the movement can have serious consequences and result in additional issues with an abnormal walking pattern.

What are the causes?

Causes of hallux limitus or rigidus can range from neuromuscular disease, arthritis, trauma, degenerative joint disease, all the way to a bacterial infection in the joint. Whatever the cause, all causes will decrease the mobility of the joint and will have severe boney consequences.

What are the signs and symptoms?

As expected there will be a gradual decrease in range of motion of the hallux; however, pain may result on the top of the big toe joint along with a boney prominence. Another unique site of pain may show in the big toe nail. The increasing pressure present during walking on the nail causes this pain. The lack of function of the big toe joint may also cause a callus to form under the toe. Additional signs and symptoms may be linked to the specific cause of the immobility.

What type of treatment is indicated?

The two approaches to treat Hallux limitus and rigidus are either conservative or surgical. Conservative treatment may consist of a shoe change, orthotics with special modification, or even corticosteroid injections. Surgical intervention may be necessary depending on the severity of the case.

If you notice any changes in your big toe joint or foot health please consider making an appointment with Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona.


Monday 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Tuesday 6:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Wednesday 6:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday 6:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Friday 6:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

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