No, hallux is not a magical word that J.K. Rowling invented as part of her newest Harry Potter story, set in the United States. Hallux is the medical term for your big toe!
The podiatric conditions, hallux limitus and hallux rigidus, are defined by the loss of range of movement in the big toe and the painful symptoms, including swelling and edema, and even compensatory pain, aching in the hip. Gradually, the condition progresses from limited movement (or limitus), to a rigidly frozen metatarsophalangeal joint (or rigidus), completely unable to flex.
Did you know an average day of walking is actually a brutal assault on the feet; each step striking hundreds of tons of force strike with each step. It is a common podiatric problem plaguing athletes, mostly, but anyone can suffer from hallux limitus or rigidus. All feet in soft, tennis shoes are vulnerable when they meet the hard ground.
More research is necessary to conclusively determine the causality, and any other contributing factors, responsible for the condition sometimes called “the stiff big toe”. Cartilage wears thin under pressure and stops protecting the bone from repetitive jamming. The abuse, from running or sports, can lead to micro-injuries and painful arthritis.
There are many ways to treat hallux limitus that do not require surgery. However, it is important to see a foot specialist before the joint locks up and the condition progresses to hallux rigidus. Physical therapy to strengthen the muscle that pulls down the big toe and custom, orthotic shoes are possible, non-invasive treatments to combat joint degeneration. Your podiatrist can also use corticosteroid injections or anti-inflammatory medication to help with acute pain management.
Do not leave foot pain untreated. Schedule an appointment with Nagler Foot Center or contact the specialists with questions online, by phone (713-893-5620) or email.