How do you treat hallux rigidus?


Quick Answer

Treatment for hallux rigidus, or arthritic stiffness of the big toe, typically involves using pain-relief medication and restricting the toe's movement by wearing stiff-soled shoes and footwear inserts, Cleveland Clinic notes. Physicians may also treat severe deformities by cutting the bone or realigning the joint.

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Full Answer

Before deciding on a treatment, physicians examine the toe to check for bone spurs and to determine if pain symptoms are causing the patient to position the foot awkwardly while walking, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The doctor may also test the toe's range of motion. In mild cases, patients are advised to avoid further inflammation and pain escalation by wearing supportive shoes with enough space to allow adequate extension of the toe.

Treatment options, such as cortisone injections, heat packs and ice packs, are also advised for pain management, but these methods do not correct the deformity, AAOS states. Cheilectomy is one surgical method used form moderate deformity and requires cutting out a section of the foot bone to improve the toe's range of motion.

In more severe cases, doctors may perform an anthroplasty by removing a portion of the bone and inserting soft tissue between the joint sections to allow more flexibility, the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society states. When hallux rigidus causes severe cartilage or joint damage, the patient often undergoes arthrodesis surgery, which involves clearing out worn cartilage, fusing the bones and securing them with screws. While a successful arthrodesis can provide permanent relief, this method eliminates all flexibility in the toe.

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