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What is Hallux Limitus?

What is Hallux Limitus?
Hallux Limitus is the stiffness of the big toe joint. Hallux is the medical term for your big toe. Sometimes the stiffness or limited motion only appears when weight is placed on the foot during standing and walking. This condition is called Functional Hallux Limitus, because it occurs during normal foot function. Over time this functional condition progresses to a structural deformity and a degenerative type of arthritis develops in the big toe joint.

What Causes Hallux Limitus?
Abnormal alignment of the 1st metatarsal bone (the long bone behind the big toe joint) is the most common cause of Hallux Limitus. The 1st metatarsal bone is elevated more than the metatarsal bones of the other toes. When this happens, the big toe joint can’t move smoothly and the joint jams.

What Are The Symptoms of Hallux Limitus?
Pain and a central callus in the bottom of the big toe is a common problem caused by Hallux Limitus. These symptoms occur because the big toe doesn’t bend upward enough when the bottom of the toe hits the ground. If you have diabetes, watch this area carefully because the pressure can cause an infected ulceration to develop. Bone spurs can also develop as a result of this condition, causing a bump on the top of the big toe joint. Shoe pressure can cause this bump to become painful. Over time, the joint itself becomes stiff and painful to move. If left untreated, complete destruction of the joint can occur.

How Do Podiatrists Diagnose Hallux Limitus?
Your Dallas Podiatrist can diagnose Hallux Limitus by performing a physical exam and taking x-rays of the foot. X-rays for early stages of Hallux Limitus may look normal, but in later stages a narrowing of the joint and/or bone spurs may be evident.

Treatments for Hallux Limitus
Oral anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections and/or functional orthotics are the initial treatments. The medications and injections help treat the pain associated with the condition, but do not stop the degenerative process. Functional orthotics treat the cause of the condition. Most orthotic devices fit into normal shoes and correct the joints functional problems. Orthotics can’t reverse damage, but they can slow or halt continued deterioration.

Surgery may be necessary if the condition progresses to the point where spurring is present around the joint. Depending on the degree of degeneration, the surgery may include removing the bone spurs or a total joint replacement. After surgery, a functional orthotic can help improve joint function. Functional orthotics and/or surgery on the joint will often cause painful calluses to subside.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, request an appointment with us.

Metroplex Foot and Ankle is a progressive group of physicians and surgeons who are committed to helping our patients to achieve their full wellness potential. Contact our Dallas Podiatrist, Garland Podiatrist, or Richardson Podiatrist offices to schedule an appointment today.

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