Hallux Limitus and Hallux Rigidus Explained

Hallux limitus, is a condition which affects your first metatarsophalageal (MTP) joint, which is the joint that connects your big toe to the foot. Most often it is caused by osteoarthritic changes and results in limited movement of this joint, causing pain and stiffness. Patients with hallux limitus find that it gets increasingly more difficult to bend their toe which leads to pain, especially when walking. 

Highlighted is the 1st MTP Joint

As the condition progresses, patients with hallux limitus may develop bone spurs which appear as a small or large raise along the top of their 1st MTP joint. The joint may eventually become completely rigid. At this stage we call the condition ‘Hallux Rigidus’. Along with the lack of motion, patients may also experience swelling of the joint, creeking of the joint and it may be painful to touch. This condition is usually characterized by pain on activity which is relieved with rest.


Hallux limitus has many causes which include:

  • Injury to the joint
  • Infection of the joint
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout

There are other cause but the common theme is that injury to the joint occurs from either one single event or because of repeated injury.


At South Dublin Podiatry we offer the following treatment options:

  • Advise on appropriate mobilising exercises
  • Footwear and shoe modifications advise. Often shoes with a wide toe box or a rocker bottom sole can help to reduce the pain 
  • Orthotics: the goal of the treatment of hallux limitus is to increase the range of motion of the big toe joint. This can be done using custom foot orthotics which will allow the joint to function properly. As there is very little range of motion left at the joint, an orthotic with a splint to the big toe can help to reduce pain in hallux rigidus
  • Advise on icing the affected area to reduce inflammation in the early stages and taking oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, to reduce pain and inflammation.

If your big toe started hurting recently or is already hurting for a while, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Call 083 8241454 or click here to book your appointment online.

Leave a Reply