Painful big toe ~ essential advice for sufferers of Hallux Rigidus
What is hallux rigidus and how to cure it. Is your big toe causing you a lot of pain? It's stiff and you find it often rubs against your shoes? Does your big toe look bent and deformed? And perhaps you are even finding it very difficult to talk you find it more comfortable to walk on the outer edge of your foot.
A lot of people might mistake these symptoms as a bunion. However, it could be Hallux Rigidus. "Hallux" means big toe and 'rigidus' means stiff. Hallux Rigidus is arthritis of the joint at the base of the big toe. This causes pain at the joint and often a bone spur will form that rubs against your shoe as you walk causing the pain. It's often mistaken for a bunion. In advanced cases, the pain is so bad that you can't even walk properly.
How do you get hallux rigidus?
The most common sufferers of arthritis of the big toe are adults aged between 30 and 60, and most commonly dancers and runners.
How can you tell the difference between Hallux Rigidus and Bunions?
You need an X-Ray to tell the difference between this problem, bunions and gout. It's important to get a proper diagnosis as the treatment varies greatly between these conditions. The size and location of the bone spur, plus the degree to which the joint has narrowed will help a foot specialist determind the appropriate course of treatment.
How to Treat It
In the early stages when there is occasional pain only and the motion of the joint is still quite good than you can wear special shoes for hallux rigidus that provide more support to the forefront of the foot. Or you can have shoe inserts fitted into your existing shoes. This will ease the stress on the big toe joint and hopefully the condition will ease. People have also claimed that rocker shoes such as MBTs have given them more relief as well. Special exercises to stretch and strengthen the calf muscle will help too as it will relieve the overloading on the forefoot especially if you suffer from tight calves.
Doctors may give an injection of cortisone (steroid) but they try not to give too many injections to avoid further damage to the cartilage.
The Surgical Option for Toe Arthritis
If the condition has worsened to the point that the bone spur is becoming a painful obstruction but the remaining joint cartilage is still in reasonable condition then a small operation to shave off the bone spur can give several years of relief. However, if the joint has been destroyed by the arthritis then your orthopedic surgeon may opt for a joint fusion. It's a straightforward, simple and reliable treatment. The joint of the big toe will no longer move but the pain does go away and overall movement is easier. Most runners continue to enjoy running after a joint fusion.
It's important to see an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist to have the right course of treatment for hallux rigidus. And as always the earlier you get the condition diagnosed and treated the better. Look after your toes and feet and enjoy pain free walking and exercise for many years to come!
For a lot more advice on common foot problems and their treatment, read this http://www.infobarrel.com/Common_Foot_Problems_and_Foot_Pain_Diagnosis
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