Hallux Limitus / Rigidus Surgery

Hallux Limitus and Hallux Rigidus are disorders of the joint located at the base of the big toe. It causes pain and stiffness in the big toe, especially during weight bearing and activity. With time, it gets increasingly harder to bend the toe. Hallux refers to the big toe, while limitus means there is limited or decreased joint motion and rigidus indicates that the toe is rigid and cannot move. Both are actually forms of degenerative arthritis — a wearing out of the cartilage within the joint that occurs in the foot and other parts of the body.

This page focuses on surgical treatment of Hallux Limitus and Rigidus. For more information regarding these conditions including signs and symptoms as well as conservative treatment methods, please refer to the Hallux Limitus/Rigidus page.

Surgical procedures for Hallux Limitus and Rigidus fall into two categories:

  • Some procedures reconstruct and “clean up” the joint. The foot and ankle surgeon removes the arthritic damage from the joint as well as any accompanying bone spurs. The doctor may also choose to alter the position of one or more bones in the big toe. These procedures are designed to preserve and restore normal alignment and function of the joint as well as reduce or eliminate pain.
  • More aggressive procedures are used when the joint cannot be preserved (Hallux Rigidus). These may involve fusing the joint or removing part of the joint. Fusion of a joint will eliminate painful motion in the joint and provide a stable foot.
Surgical fusion of the big toe joint with severe arthritis.

Surgical fusion of the big toe joint with severe arthritis.

The procedure that is used to correct hallux limitus or rigidus depends on many factors, including the cause of the condition and the severity, as well as the patient’s age, occupation and activity level. Our foot and ankle surgeon has extensive surgical training and experience to select the surgical procedure best suited to your particular condition and needs. If surgery is performed, the length of the recovery period will vary, depending upon the procedure or procedures performed.

If you wish to discuss surgical options with our foot and ankle surgeon, please contact us for a surgical consultation.