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Hallux Limitus

Hallux limitus, also called Hallux rigidus, refers to a stiffened big toe which is unable to move in the up or down direction. Since movement of the big toe in these planes is important for walking, pain results in the big toe. Whenever there is restricted movement in the body anywhere, pain results. When the big toe becomes stiff, a callus may form on top of the big toe and other toes. Because of the pain, the person with this condition starts walking in a manner to avoid the pain and calluses form. The joint most commonly affected is not the joints of the big toe, but rather the joint where the big toe meets the first metatarsal. Hallux limitus is often seen in people over the age of 30. Cause Previous damage to the toe where the cartilage is damaged could cause Hallux limitus. Wearing shoes that don’t allow the toes to move around or wriggle is another cause. The longer the big toe sits in a shoe where no movement is allowed, the sooner it will become stiff from lack of circulation. Treatment and Prevention Using ice to reduce any inflammation in the joint of the big toe is helpful in Hallux limitus. To do this, lay a few towels over the toe so that you have 3-4 layers of cloth over the toe) and then add an ice pack on top of it. Cover the ice pack with another towel layer, set your clock for 10 minutes. Remove the ice and towels after 10 minutes. Since the big toe must be properly aligned in the foot, it’s important to have a health professional evaluate the alignment of the big toe and the other bones in the foot. Custom orthotics are easily added to shoes to make up for any defects in normal anatomy seen in a foot. Arch supports or sensitive foot insoles are often very useful in cases of Hallux limitus, as well.