Hallux rigidus

One of the first symptoms of hallux rigidus is stiffness in the first joint of the big toe (hallux). Since this joint participates in extending the foot, walking can be uncomfortable or even painful. If mobility is reduced or lost, consultation is strongly recommended, particularly if the pain is accompanied by hard bone spurs at the phalanges of the big toe.


Hallux rigidus is caused by gradual wear of the cartilage between the metatarsal and phalanx of the big toe. Unfortunately, the consequences of this form of arthritis are irreversible. With the disappearance of the cartilage lining the joint, friction can contribute to the development of bone spurs (osteophytes) at the heads of the bones making up this joint.



If mobility is reduced or pain increases, initial conservative treatment will consist of taking oral anti-inflammatory medications or using a rigid support to provide some pain relief. To reduce the pain caused by movement, wearing shoes that allow good rolling of the foot joints can also be helpful. However, in cases of severe arthritis, surgery can offer a more lasting solution. Various options exist depending on the type of lesion present:


Treatment #1 : Current data suggest the joint can be preserved by replacing only the portion affected by arthritis with a synthetic tissue (CartivaTM). Inserting this artificial cartilage prevents friction between the bone ends.


Treatment #2 : If bone spurs (osteophytes) have become too visible or bothersome, they can be removed by minimally invasive percutaneous surgery (cheilectomy). Depending on the case, this treatment can be combined with the other two.


Treatment #3 : Permanent fixation of the joint (fusion) is the last resort when all other treatments have failed to relieve the arthritis. This normally has a minimal impact on the patients’ quality of life, as they quickly regain their mobility and ability to walk. This surgery does not prevent patients from walking, running or even wearing high heels (3 to 5 cm). Neither does it result in limping.



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We are happy to share with you our next medical event ‘’Ulcères: qu'en faire? Approche holistique des traitements en 2023’', which will take place on the 4th of march 2023.

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