Symptoms of this condition grow worse over time. So what is a dull discomfort now could develop into intense pain. Some early signs include pain and swelling around the big toe joint, and discomfort that worsens with cold or damp weather. Eventually, patients may notice a hard bump on top of the foot or an inability to bend the toe at all. If symptoms cause a person to limp, pain may spread to the hip, knee, or lower back.
There is no single, identified cause of this type of osteoarthritis at the foot. However, the condition is more common in women and those who have a family history of hallux rigidus. People who have jobs that put a lot of stress on this joint by continually squatting or bending down may be more at risk as well.
What can I do to prevent it?
There is no home cure for hallux rigidus. However, some remedies can help to put people more at ease. Try applying hot and cold therapy several times a day to the affected joint. This could include using an ice pack and heating pad or could involve soaking the feet alternatively in hot and cold water. Experts also recommend that people wear closed-toe, supportive shoes, and avoid activities that exacerbate symptoms, such as running.
When pain medications and at-home therapies don’t work, a doctor may recommend surgery for hallux rigidus. One operation, called a cheilectomy, is a simple procedure where the doctor shaves any bone spurs associated with the hallux rigidus. If a patient has more severe symptoms, the doctor may operate to place a spacer in between bones so that bones don’t rub against each other. In rare cases, a surgeon may perform an arthroplasty or joint replacement surgery.
Do I need surgery?
Surgery is only recommended when other treatment options are no longer working. If big toe pain is preventing a person from regular activity, such as walking or wearing shoes, speak with a surgeon about possible surgery options. A podiatric surgeon can provide the best recommendation on whether or not surgery is the right choice.