Hallux rigidus is the medical term for arthritis in the big toe. Arthritis is a condition that can affect any joint of the body, can occur in people of all ages and that can cause significant pain and discomfort.
As a specialist in treating problems in the foot and ankle, I see a lot of people who are really struggling with arthritis in their big toe. For such a seemingly small joint, it can have a big impact on everyday life. While you may think of arthritis as being more common in older people, arthritis in the big toe can begin very early in life, even in your teens. Fortunately, if you do get arthritis in your big toe when you're young, it doesn't mean that you are consequently more likely to develop arthritis in other joints as you get older.
If you have arthritis in your big toe, or think you might, why not arrange a consultation with me? With no waiting lists, I can see you quickly and help get your pain managed as quickly as possible.
There are a number of different types of arthritis, the one I see most commonly in the big toe is known as osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis causes the smooth articular cartilage at the ends of bones to wear down far more quickly than normal. In a healthy joint, the bone surfaces move freely and smoothly over one another. In a joint with osteoarthritis the bones begin to rub when they move, causing causes pain, stiffness and swelling in the joint. New bony growths called osteophytes can also form in the big toe, making the joint much stiffer.
As the arthritis progresses, the symptoms also tend to become worse.
At your consultation, I will talk with you about your specific symptoms. I'll want to know how long you've had them, whether they have been getting worse and how they are limiting or affecting your normal life. I believe treatment should be tailored to fit the individual, and this starts with getting to know you, your situation and what you would to see as a result of any treatment.
I'll examine your foot to assess how the big toe joint is currently working and the extent of the discomfort it is causing you. If you need any diagnostic X-rays or scans, I will arrange those for you.
Unfortunately, there isn't yet a cure for arthritis. There are however some very good treatments available to help get you out of pain and back to being able to do the things you love.
Treatments fall into two categories; non-surgical (known as 'conservative') and surgical. In nearly all cases, I will always start with conservative treatment. Surgery is most appropriate for more severe arthritis when the big toe joint is damaged extensively.
Conservative treatment includes wearing shows with stiffer soles (to reduce the amount of movement the big toe joint makes when walking), pain relief medication and a corticosteroid injection into the big toe joint. The best treatment(s) for you will be decided when we know the extent of the arthritic damage in the joint.
If these non-surgical treatments don't give you the pain relief you want, or stop being as effective, we may discuss surgery to treat the problem. There are a few different types of surgery I can do, and the one used will depend on a number of factors, including the location, extent and severity of the arthritis.
These surgical options range from a trim and wash out of the joint (cheilectomy), fusion (arthrodesis) or the implantation of a synthetic joint spacer. I will talk you through the operation that I believe would be best for you, based on my years of experience. If you have any questions or concerns, this is a great time to talk through them with me, I am always very happy to help.
I will make sure you have all the information you need to make a sensible, informed decision about your treatment.
Living with arthritis in any joint can be challenging. When it's in the big toe, the pain and problems are often magnified as a result of how involved the toe is in moving and everyday activity.
When the arthritis is in its early stages, your pain may be mild or intermittent. As the arthritis develops, your big toe may become stiffer and more painful. These problems will usually become much harder to ignore.
Good, effective help is available for arthritis in the big toe. You don't need to suffer in silence. If you would appreciate talking with someone about managing and treating your arthritis, it would be a real pleasure to help. It is very easy to arrange to see me at Circle, my private secretary will be delighted to schedule a time that's convenient for you.