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Podiatrist - Washington
853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 225-7410
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By Philip S. Pinsker, DPM PC
January 28, 2016

Hallux limitus is a disorder that causes pain and stiffness in the joint of the big toe. At Philip S. Pinsker, DPM, patients with this condition tell us they first noticed just an occasional soreness, accompanied by a little difficulty straightening or flexing the big toe. As time goes on, however, this progressive disorder leads to increased pain and eventually an inability to unbend your toe. When this happens, the term for the disorder becomes hallux rigidus. Hallux rigidus can be an extremely disabling condition. Your big toe is necessary for walking, squatting, bending and even standing. Having it permanently frozen in one position can severely limit your activities. In addition to the pain and discomfort you may feel, bone spurs, corns, calluses and even open sores can form as a result of the rubbing of footwear that happens to patients with this problem.

Causes

Hallux limitus is actually a form of osteoarthritis, the “wear and tear” kind of the disease. Defects in the mechanical functioning and the structure of the foot lead to the arthritis. Common causes of these defects include:

  • Genetics: For some people a structural abnormality or faulty foot mechanics can be hereditary
  • Fallen arches
  • Excessive rolling in (pronation) of the ankles when you walk
  • Overuse: jobs or activities that involve stooping down or squatting place excessive stress on the big toe joint
  • Certain inflammatory diseases, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Injury or trauma to the big toe

Diagnosis and Treatment

Sometimes patients mistake hallux limitus for a bunion. Although the pain and discomfort may be in a similar area of the foot, the cause and treatment are very different. Our board certified podiatrist, Dr. Philip S. Pinsker will conduct a thorough exam of your foot and toe and evaluate your current range of motion. X-rays may be ordered to see the extent of the arthritis and also check for any other deformities. Once a diagnosis of hallux limitus is confirmed, the foot doctor will decide on the right course of treatment based on the cause of the stress on the joint. There are several non-surgical options including orthotics, physical therapy, medications and footwear modifications.

What’s most essential in the treatment of hallux limitus is starting early. If you have noticed any stiffness, soreness or pain in your big toe joint, schedule an appointment in our Washington office as soon as possible to prevent greater disability down the road.

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