Taking Care of Hallux Limitus

What is hallux limitus? Its name gives the answer: hallux is your big toe and limitus refers to the limited range of motion of the toe. At Lansdowne Podiatry we want our patients to be informed about how to identify this condition because left untreated it can become a serious disability.

Who’s Prone to Hallux Limitus?

Hallux limitus is a form of arthritis. It is most commonly caused by defects in foot structure such as the first metatarsal bone being out of alignment, flatfeet or ankles that tend to roll inward. For some patients, faulty foot structure is genetic. Other possible causes of hallux limitus include overuse (particularly in patients whose jobs involve squatting or climbing), other inflammatory diseases (such as gout), or injury.

Symptoms and Treatment

Hallux limitus usually involves pain in the big toe joint but this pain may be sharp and sudden or it can develop slowly over time. Swelling and stiffness are also common signs of hallux limitus. Our podiatrist, Dr. Monique Renee Rolle will examine your foot and specifically the affected toe. Dr. Rolle will also take a complete medical history and ask questions about your activities and lifestyle to determine if hallux limitus is the cause of your symptoms. X-rays may also be ordered to evaluate how far the arthritis has progressed.

Non-surgical treatments for hallux limitus include:

  • Medication—cortisone injections or oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to help relieve pain and inflammation
  • Physical therapy—ultrasound and exercises may help reduce pain and preserve or increase range of motion
  • Orthotics—custom inserts for your shoes can help correct for certain mechanical defects and take pressure of the big toe joint

Early treatment of hallux limitus is essential in order to avoid the condition progressing to hallux rigidus—when the toe is no longer able to bend or straighten. At that point, surgery may be unavoidable. If you have symptoms of hallux limitus, don’t delay. Make an appointment at our Leesburg office by calling (571) 223-0424 at your soonest convenience.