With spring officially here and temperatures warming, you may have already been out working in your yard or garden—and have the sore muscles to prove it! All that crouching on your haunches or kneeling with your toes bent against the ground can cause stiffness and pain in your leg muscles and toes when you are not used to it. Another condition that can lead to a stiff toe is arthritis, and the pain can be long-lasting and chronic, instead of an occasional response to overdoing it.
Arthritis in the big toe joint is called hallux rigidus—the most common form of arthritis in your feet. It is second only to bunions as a condition of the big toe. It will cause pain whenever you push off to walk, and the joint may swell, stiffen up, or even form a bone spur on top of the joint. When your toe won’t bend, it is harder to balance and get any spring in your stride (pardon the pun).
You may never know the reason arthritis set in to your joint. It could be genetic if you inherited a longer toe or a unique foot anatomy, or the result of a trauma or injury that damaged the bones. Even aging can cause deterioration that wears down the ends of the bones and leads to inflammation. The thing is, you have it, and what are you going to do about it?
Even though our doctors are excellent surgeons, too, at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center we usually start with conservative treatments when your big toe is stiff. That could include:
Wider shoes with cushioning and or curved soles
Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications
Ice or heat therapy
Custom orthotics that limit the toe’s movement
These may help with the pain, but they won’t make the condition go away. If you are still suffering pain, you might consider surgery to remove excess bone, realign the joint, or fuse the toe. These carry usual surgical risks, but few are serious, and recovery varies from one to three months depending on the type of procedure.
Let us help you make the right choice. At Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center, our staff will answer your questions and give you the information you need to make a good decision about surgery. Just call (303) 423-2520 for an appointment in Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, or Granby, CO.
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