Hallux Rigidus/Limitus (Stiff Big Toe)

A stiff big toe can occur due to wear and tear or injury damage to the articular cartilage causing the raw bones to rub together. Overgrowth or a bone spur can form on the top of the bone limiting the amount the bone can bend when walking.  


  • Pain in the joint especially when pushing off the toe while walking.
  • Swelling around the joint of the  big toe
  • bunion or callus, that forms on outside of the toe
  • Stiffness in the big toe and difficulty to bend  it
  • Symptoms aggravated by cold, damp weather
  • You should consult your podiatrist if you are walking on the outside of your foot due to the pain and find it difficult to bend your toe


Treating the condition is much easier when diagnosed early, however, if the patient waits till a bony bump has formed on the top of the foot and a bony spur has already developed the condition is more difficult to treat  

Nonsurgical Treatment

  • Orthotic devices –  an in-shoe device can be made by your podiatrist that incorporates a rigid wedge that extends to the distal tip of the big toe, resulting in the reduction of movement, thus reducing.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication can help reduce the swelling and ease the pain.
  • Wear shoes that have room for your toes and do avoid high heel shoes
  • Stiff-soled shoes with a rocker or roller bottom design may be recommended.