Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

Hallux Rigidus

Foot & Ankle Center of Iowa

Podiatrists & Foot and Ankle Surgeons located in Ankeny serving greater Des Moines, IA

If you experience stiffness, pain, or immobility in your big toe, you could be suffering from a hallux limitus or rigidus. Paul Dayton, DPM, MS, and Mindi Dayton, DPM, MHA at Foot & Ankle Center of Iowa in Ankeny, Iowa, are expert podiatrists who work with patients to remedy their foot and ankle pain, including symptoms of hallux rigidus. Request an appointment today by calling the office or booking an appointment online.

Hallux Rigidus Q & A

What is hallux rigidus?

Hallux rigidus means “stiff big toe” in Latin. It’s a type of degenerative arthritis that affects the joint where your big toe and foot attach. Hallux limitus may occur when the joint is still healthy, but the big toe joint is not functioning correctly because of how the foot is positioned with walking.

When the cartilage that covers the ends of your bones in your big toe is damaged, the joint space narrows, which can cause pointed growths on your bone called bone spurs.

Although anyone can develop this condition, hallux rigidus tends to affect people ages 40 and over.

If you’re having issues with stiffness in your big toe, or other pain in your feet, call Foot & Ankle Center of Iowa for a diagnosis, treatment, and expert care.

What are the symptoms of hallux rigidus?

Hallux rigidus progresses over time. In the early stages, symptoms might include:

  • Swelling around the joint
  • Pain in your big toe when walking
  • Stiffness in your big toe
  • Inflammation around the joint
  • Pain flare-ups during cold or wet weather

In the later stages, you might notice:

  • Constant pain
  • Severe stiffness
  • A hard bump on the top of your foot
  • Inability to move or bend your big toe

You may also feel pain in your lower back, hips, or knees if hallux rigidus causes you to struggle with walking or limp.

What causes hallux rigidus?

Even though there’s no known cause of hallux rigidus, several risk factors have been identified, including:

Being female

Studies show that hallux rigidus statistically shows up in women more than it does in men.

Family history

If you have a family member that has hallux rigidus, your risk for getting it increases. Inheriting a certain gait or foot type can also lead to this condition.

Foot anatomy

If your foot anatomy is abnormal, such as having an elevated metatarsal bone, you might be more at risk of developing hallux rigidus.


Different types of injuries can contribute to developing hallux rigidus, such as hurting the joint in your big toe or stubbing it.

When you visit the team at Foot & Ankle Center of Iowa, they talk to you about your risks, your condition, and the treatment that’s right for you. Treatment might include wearing supportive shoes or taking anti-inflammatory medications.

If you notice issues with your big toe and think you might have hallux rigidus, see your podiatrist at Foot & Ankle Center of Iowa. Call the office today, or book an appointment online.