Hallux Rigidus is a disorder of the joint located at the base of the big toe. It causes pain and stiffness in the joint, and with time it gets increasingly harder to bend the toe. "Hallux” refers to the big toe, while “rigidus” indicates that the toe is rigid and cannot move.

Hallux Rigidus is actually a form of degenerative arthritis. Because Hallux Rigidus is a progressive condition, the toe’s motion decreases as time goes on. In its earlier stage, when motion of the big toe is only somewhat limited, the condition is called “hallux limitus.” But as the problem advances, the toe’s range of motion gradually decreases until it potentially reaches the end stage of “rigidus,” in which the big toe becomes stiff, or what is sometimes called a “frozen joint".
Commonly, Hallux Rigidus is caused by a structural abnormality of the great toe. Because of the wear and tear on the joint, arthritis often develops in the joints.  People with fallen arches may tend to “pronate”, or walk on their toes which can also cause Hallux Rigidus.  A great toe injury can also cause the disease.

Dr. Smith will examine your feet and move the toe to determine its range of motion. X-rays help determine how much arthritis is present as well as to evaluate any bone spurs or other abnormalities that may have formed.


Early signs and symptoms include pain and stiffness when walking or standing. Pain may be aggravated during cold weather periods or during certain activities. Swelling in the joint is common. Some people may change the way they walk to avoid the pain and suffer from dull pain in the hip, knee, or lower back due to changes in their weight distribution

In many cases, early treatment may prevent or postpone the need for surgery in the future. Treatment for mild or moderate cases of Hallux Rigidus may include wearing certain shoes, using orthotic devices , oral medications, injection therapy and physical therapy.

In some cases, surgery is the only way to eliminate or reduce pain. There are several types of surgery for treatment of Hallux Rigidus. Including debridement, fusion and arthrosurface hemiCAP resurfacing.  Dr. Smith will take into consideration the extent of your deformity based on the xray findings, your age, your activity level, and other factors, to guide in your surgical plan. The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.

Dr. Sheryl Smith
    Orthopedic Specialist
9800 Broadway Extension,
Suite 201
Oklahoma City, OK  73114
OKFootMD   Dr. Sheryl Smith