Hallux Limitus, What a pain in the big toe joint!?

Hallu..what? no, it’s not the name of an ancient Roman centurion! it’s a medical term for a restriction in the joint that connects the big toe to the foot that stops it lifting up like it should. If it gets really bad it can lead to something called hallux rigidus (no movement whatsoever). It is related to inefficient walking styles which lead to stress on the joint and a deteriorative change in the bony structure.

The foot is a remarkable piece of engineering that works very efficiently in its optimal posture. It provides cushioning when your foot needs it most when you’re walking and then with finesse changes position to provide increased stability (this is particularly interesting when we realize that cushioning and stability are at opposite ends of the spectrum to one another – think of it like soft sand (cushioning) compared with concrete (stability)).

The big toe joint (1st metatarsophalangeal joint) is the main mechanism responsible for actuating this change in posture during walking. If it becomes dysfunctional for whatever reason and is not managed, it develops stress on the joint. Over time this can lead to arthritis (osteoarthritis).

This development of arthritis begins to prevent the joint from achieving its objective (see paragraph 2) so that it cannot provide the stability that it once did. This can lead to a whole range of complications ranging from ankle sprains to falls and fractures. Additionally, a bump begins to develop on the top of the joint which can become unsightly or be difficult to fit into footwear.

“…it’s so essential that we treat hallux limitus early!”

This is why it’s so essential that we treat hallux limitus early!

If we can support the joint and reduce the development of the arthritis there is a chance, we can restore the normal use of the joint. At the very least, we can maximise what is left of the joint movement range and get the foot operating at its greatest efficiency.

The other concern with the development of the hallux limitus and the subsequent osteoarthritis is the pain associated with it. This can range from anything from mild discomfort once in a while to excruciating pain every step taken. The unfortunate likelihood is that if it is not treated early, it is likely to get worse.

If it’s left without treatment long enough it will likely cause hallux rigidus. This is where the joint becomes completely fused and can’t move at all. At this point, the pain often completely resolves (although this is not a guarantee and it often becomes even more painful). The joint then becomes completely inefficient and unable to be “optimised.)” It can then only be accommodated or rested so that it doesn’t keep causing pain.

Early treatment can salvage the joint space and prevent further complications. Get in touch today, don’t delay and allow the condition to deteriorate.

If your big toe pain is ongoing, regularly occurs >1x weekly, or is not getting better after 2-3day’s it’s about time to seek some assistance or impeding on your normal day-to-day activities, it’s something you should probably get checked. Most types of muscle pains that answer yes to these last questions will not improve without help. If you think you might need orthotics give us a call (02 43239100) or BOOK AN ASSESSMENT TODAY!