Hallux Limitus or Stiff Big Toe


Refers to a very common condition that results in pain and loss of mobility of the joint to the big toe or 1 st Metatarsal phalangeal joint.

The cause of Hallux Limitus include:

  • Poor foot posture- flat feet and over pronation
  • Unusually long 2 nd metatarsal
  • Trauma, either from a one off impact or repetitive stress on the joint
  • Poor footwear, excessively high heels can overload the joint
  • Inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid arthritis and gout

Regardless of the cause most people with Hallux Limitus experience pain, especially when walking, running or crouching down. They also notice a loss of movement, the big toe won’t bend like it use to, often there is swelling around the joint and their gait pattern may change as they try to reduce pressure on the big toe. This altered gait pattern often causes secondary pain elsewhere.

The primary aim of any treatment is to reduce or eliminate pain and restore function. Conservative treatment includes rest, orthotics, footwear modification (rocker sole shoes), mobilisation and anti-inflammatory medication. For severe cases surgery that either fuses or replaces the affected joint may be warranted.

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