Hallux limitus literally means stiff big toe joint. It is a condition that is characterised by decreased range of motion and pain at the big toe joint (first metatarsophalangeal joint). Over time, the limited range of motion can result in arthritis of the big toe joint.
The decreased range of motion that causes hallux limitus is a common occurrence – but it is not often recognised until the big toe becomes painful.
Hallux limitus is most often caused by abnormal foot anatomy. An elevated first metatarsal bone, such as is seen in flat feet, will hinder proper range of motion of the great toe. An abnormal length of either the second metatarsal bone or first metatarsal bone can also cause hallux limitus. The classic example of an abnormal metatarsal length is the Morton’s toe. A Morton’s toe is another name for a second toe that is longer than the big toe. This type of foot is more prone to the discomfort of hallux limitus.
All conservative treatments begin with the shoes that you wear. While shoes may help to reduce the pain of Hallux Limitus, they do not seem to prevent this disease from becoming worse. This is due to the fact that shoes wear down quickly, and whatever soothing effects they may have when they are new, are quickly lost as they wear down. This is one reason why custom-made orthotics are more cost effective than orthopedic shoes…custom-made orthotics last for years without breaking down, while shoes do not.
Make sure that your shoes are:
- Wide enough across the ball of the foot and toe area, so that there is no pressure on the big toe and its joint.
- The shoes must be long enough in order to prevent pressure on the tip of the toe.
- The heel of the shoe should be no higher than 1 inch.
- The sole of the shoe should be rigid, in order to reduce bending of the big toe when walking.
Once a diagnosis of Hallux Limitus has been made possible treatment options include:
- Foot treatment options
- Orthotics or arch supports with special modifications to take stress off the big toe.