Hallux rigidus, sometimes called turf toe, is the development of arthritis in the big toe joint like that which occurs in knees and hips.
Sometimes confused with bunions, this condition is very common. It results in limited motion, swelling and pain around the great toe joint. Symptoms generally worsen with time and often the bone changes (development of spurs around the joint) cause discomfit in shoes. As the condition worsens, the cartilage inside the joint becomes more degraded and worn away. Once gone, cartilage cannot be replaced. At its worst, the condition results in severe and painful arthritic damage which significantly affects quality of life.
The cause of hallux rigidus is not fully understood. It is believed to be most commonly the result of an injury to the joint, which may have been relatively minor and may have occurred many years ago. Some foot types (shape, length and position of bones) may also be a factor.
Treatments for hallux rigidus
Operations for hallux rigidus include joint repair / salvage and joint fusion. The Foot and Ankle Clinic’s Dr. Mark Gilheany does not advise joint replacement surgery for this condition.
As an alternative to fusion (where the big toe joint is bolted so it will not move), Mark performs a specialised joint resurfacing procedure – where possible – for hallux rigidus. This preserves movement at the big toe joint. The joint salvage options can be converted to a fusion procedure at a subsequent operation in the unlikely event that problems recur or persist.
At the Foot and Ankle Clinic our highly qualified team of Podiatrists are all members of the Australian Podiatry Association and offer a combined 50 years’ experience. They are trained to diagnose and effectively treat Hallux Rigidus via a range of treatments.
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