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What is Hallux Limitus?

Hallux limitus is a condition characterized by stiffness and decreased movement of the big toe. As the condition progresses, bone spurs and arthritis may develop in the toe joint (metatarsophalangeal joint), eventually leading to complete joint rigidity. 

Causes of Hallux Limitus

Some of the common causes of hallux limitus include:

  • Wear and tear of the metatarsophalangeal joint
  • Abnormal foot anatomy
  • Injury to the toe 
  • Excessive physical activity of the toes
  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes and high heels
  • Family history of hallux limitus
  • Any inflammatory conditions in the toes such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Flat-footedness

Symptoms of Hallux Limitus

The signs and symptoms of hallux limitus can vary from mild to severe and include:

  • Pain in the toe joint that worsens with walking or any movement of the joint
  • Reduced flexibility of the toe
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Limping
  • Callus formation under the big toe
  • Development of bone spurs at the top of the joint.

Diagnosis of Hallux Limitus

Diagnosis of hallux limitus can be made based on:

  • Physical examination: Your doctor will discuss symptoms and perform a thorough foot examination.
  • X-ray: This helps to detect any abnormalities or damage caused to the metatarsal bone

Treatment for Hallux limitus

Treatment for hallux limitus includes:

Conservative methods:

  • RICE Method: This is an acronym that stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation of the affected foot.
  • Orthotics: Orthotic devices and specially modified footwear can be used to support your arches.
  • Protective padding: The sore area in your feet can be protected with silicon gel pads.
  • Exercise: Regular stretching and strengthening exercises for the foot and calf muscles can help to improve symptoms.
  • Medications: Your doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the pain and swelling that may be caused by arthritis.

Surgical methods:

If conservative methods are ineffective, surgical methods may be suggested, as follows:

  • Cheilectomy: This surgical technique involves removing bone spurs and unwanted bony outgrowths.
  • Arthrodesis: This technique involves fusing the two bones forming the joint together which eliminates mobility in the big toe joint.
  • Joint replacement: In this method, the damaged toe joints are replaced with artificial implants.

Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

16811 Southwest Fwy, 2nd Floor, Sugar Land, TX 77479