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Dallas Podiatry Works

Diagnosing and Treating Hallux Limitus

If you’re experiencing pain in your big toe and are finding that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to walk or run, take a moment to look at it carefully. You should be able to bend your toe anywhere between 50 to 90 degrees.

What is Hallux Limitus?

If you’ve lost the range of motion in your big toe, you may be suffering from Hallux Limitus, a condition that can lead to arthritis of the great toe joint. If you’re young, the word “arthritis” might not be what you expected to hear, but it’s actually a very common problem that is caused by the abnormal function and alignment of your foot bones and joints.

Great toe arthritis is often the cause of pain in the big toe when moving. Most who suffer from this condition report that there is little to no pain when the toe is not bearing weight.

In many cases, the first metatarsal bone in your foot rests higher than your other metatarsal bones, so when you walk, your big toe joint tends to “jam,” which eventually causes pain, calluses and even bone spurs.

The big toe is vital to your gait and propulsion – when its motion is limited, the other joints in your foot have to compensate, causing extra strain.  This strain leads to an inefficient gait pattern, increased fatigue, and pain.

The causes for great toe arthritis lie with genetics or overuse injuries. Many people develop arthritis in their big toe joint from a previously untreated trauma or injury. Over time, extra bone growth occurs on top of the toe joint and the joint cartilage erodes, leading to arthritis.

How is Hallux Limitus Treated?

The good news is that there are many non-surgical courses of treatment that can prevent further degeneration of the joint and reduce pain. Drs. Joel Brook and David Northcutt, at Dallas Podiatry Works, want to make the diagnosis and treatment of your pain a priority. They will conduct a thorough examination of the affected foot, including digital X-rays, to rule out other causes of your pain. Once diagnosed, they will be able to explain treatment options catered to your specific needs

To treat the problem, you will be fitted with a prescription orthotic device to wear inside your shoes, which will accommodate the condition in order to relieve the pain. This can slow or even stop the damage to the joint and eliminate painful calluses, so it’s important to wear your orthotic daily. You may also receive oral or topical anti-inflammatory medications or cortisone injections to reduce swelling and pain.

If your big toe joint has degenerated to the point where it has developed bone spurs or cartilage damage, surgery may be required. The recovery from surgery is usually rapid and is followed by physical therapy.

The longer you let your arthritis go untreated, the greater the possibility that your big toe joint will require surgery, so see a podiatrist right away if you suspect you have this condition. Make an appointment with Dallas Podiatry Works now.


Dr. Joel W. Brook
Dr. Joel Brook is a board-certified podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Dallas Podiatry Works in TX.