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The Stiffness In Your Big Toe Might Be An Early Sign Of Arthritis Known As Hallux Limitus

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If you've been noticing stiffness and pain in your big toe after you run, or even at rest, you may want to see a podiatrist for a diagnosis. You might have a condition known as hallux limitus, which is a progressive type of arthritis that can eventually cause your stiff toe to become rigid and unable to bend. Here's a look at how this foot condition affects you and some treatments your podiatrist might recommend.

Hallux Limitus Affects Toe Movement

Your toe goes through a wide range of motion as you walk. When the toe joint becomes inflamed or deformed, your toe gets stiff and unable to move as much as it should when you walk or run. This can cause pain, and it also causes you to alter the way you walk. The alteration can trigger other foot conditions and leave you with chronic foot pain in other parts of your feet.

Hallux Limitus Progresses Through Stages

It's important to have this condition diagnosed in the early stages so treatments can be given to slow the progression of the joint damage and to compensate for the changes in your feet. Initially, your big toe may feel swollen and stiff, especially after running or walking long distances. You may eventually start having pain in your toe at rest, and you may develop bone spurs. As the joint damage progresses, the movement in your toe gets more limited until the toe is rigid and unable to bend.

Treatments Can Help Manage Pain And Mobility

Your podiatrist may start treatment by recommending the best shoes for you to wear so your toe joint isn't repetitively irritated as you go through your day. Shoe inserts might also be recommended, or your podiatrist might prescribe custom orthotics to help correct gait problems that contribute to the condition or that are caused by your hallux limitus. Episodes of pain might be treated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, ice, and rest.

Joint surgery is sometimes an option for hallux limitus. Surgery might be done in the earlier stages of joint deterioration or it might be done once your toe has become rigid. The surgery might involve joint decompression, joint fusion, removal of bone spurs, or a joint implant. Physical therapy may be recommended after surgery, and therapy may be advised in the early stages of hallux limitus to improve range of motion and reduce pain.

It's easy to ignore foot pain, especially if the pain comes and goes. However, it's best to get advice from a podiatrist about your pain since starting treatment early could help keep you mobile and prevent worse pain and more foot damage in the future.  

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