Hallux Limitus: A Big Pain for the Big Toe

You may have never heard of hallux limitus but that doesn’t mean you’re not affected by it. This condition causes pain and stiffness in the joint at the base of the big toe, as well as swelling. It can come on suddenly with an intense pain or develop gradually over time with early symptoms of achiness and discomfort in the big toe.

Hallux limitus happens as the result of a misalignment of the first metatarsal bone (the long bone that goes from the middle of your foot right up to the base of your big toe). For some people, this is an inherited foot mechanics problem. The misalignment can also be caused by overuse or injury.

Medical Treatment A Must

This condition is progressive. Hallux limitus will not go away by itself. In fact, as time goes on, the range of motion of the toe will steadily decrease and walking will become more painful and difficult. Eventually, the toe will even be in pain when you are off your feet. In addition, left untreated, hallux limitus can lead to other problems, including: calluses, bone spurs, and foot ulcers. At its end stage, hallux limitus becomes hallux rigidus, which, as the name implies, means the toe becomes rigidly fixed in the incorrect position and cannot be bent or moved at all.

At Edmond/Norman Foot & Ankle Clinic, we have a good deal of experience in treating hallux limitus. Our board certified foot and ankle surgeon, Dr. A. Bil Buksh, will conduct an examination of your toe and check to see what your current range of motion is. He may also order digital x-rays, which can be done in either our Edmond or Norman office, to see how far the condition has progressed.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, several treatment options are available:

  • Medications: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) or corticosteroid injections may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Custom orthotics: orthotic devices to place inside your shoes can help maintain proper bone alignment and mechanical foot function
  • Physical therapy: ultrasound and other therapies may be recommended to provide relief and increase range of motion
  • Surgery: this option is usually for extreme cases that have progressed too far to treat with more conservative options

In addition, your foot doctor will recommend that you choose shoes with roomy toe boxes to reduce the pressure on your toe.

If you have any of the symptoms described above, contact our office. We offer Oklahoma City patients convenient appointments at two locations. Early treatment of hallux limitus will stop a minor annoyance before it becomes a major foot problem.