Hallux rigidus surgery is a medical procedure used to treat a "rigid big toe," which is a big toe that has lost its ability to move as needed for walking or other movement, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The type of surgery required depends on the severity of the condition, with milder cases being easier to treat successfully.
Typically, rigid big toe occurs as arthritis develops in the joint at the base of the big toe, which is the metatarsophalangeal joint. This causes pain with bending or movement, as explained by the AAOS. As arthritis advances, movement of the joint becomes limited as the cartilage lining the bones wears out and bone spurs develop where the bones rub together. Swelling and the appearance of a bump on the top of the foot are additional symptoms of a rigid big toe. Before advising a patient to pursue surgical treatment, doctors recommend other forms of treatment, such as taking pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, modifying the types of shoes worn to reduce stress on the joint, and applying ice or heat to reduce swelling and pain. When those treatments fail to provide sufficient relief, doctors can recommend a surgical option. For mild to moderate cases, surgery involves removing bone spurs and a portion of the toe bone to restore movement. For more serious cases, surgeons may fuse the bones together or perform a total joint replacement.