Hallux rigidus is a condition in which the movement in the big toe or hallux joint of the foot is rigid and is often associated with osteoarthritis. The big toe joint of the feet are really quite an important joint in the body as it is required to bend so the leg can move ahead over the foot when walking. If something prevents the motion at that joint, then continuing to move forward is going to be a lot more difficult and overload is going to be added to other joints that have to bend more as that joint just isn't moving properly. This tends to cause pain in the big toe or hallux joint and also other joints. In addition, it will cause an abnormal wear pattern on the footwear. The chief cause of hallux rigidus is generally a previous injury to the joint. With time this sets up a process of abnormal use which leads to further damage and osteoarthritis to the joint. Subsequently the restricted motion of the joint is even further limited and the joint becomes rigid with no motion possible.
The best way to treat a Hallux Rigidus is proper management of the initial trauma with good rehabilitation and the use of exercises to prevent or slow down the developments of the osteoarthritis. When the joint is painful, then prescription drugs and injection therapy into the joint works extremely well for the symptoms. Using a firmer sole shoe is usually useful as this reduces the demand on the joint to flex. Some footwear may also have a rocker added to them, so that you pivot over the rocker and do not need to use the joint as much. If these conservative methods are not helpful, then the next step is surgical. There are various alternatives here. The simplest, if indicated, is to basically get rid of some bone of the top of the joint to allow to bend more. If that's not possible, then the joint can be surgically fused to stop it bending. This specific fusion addresses the pain from the osteoarthritis as the joint is unable to move.