When you have a stiff big toe, walking can become painful and difficult. An unmovable big toe (Hallux Rigidus) often is the most common form of arthritis in your foot. "Wear-and-tear" injuries also can wear down the articular cartilage, causing raw bone ends to rub together. A bone spur, or overgrowth, may develop on the top of the bone. This overgrowth can prevent the toe from bending as much as it needs to when you walk.
Symptoms may include:
- A bump, like a bunion or callus, that develops on the top of the foot.
- Pain in the joint when you are active, especially as you push-off on the toes when you walk.
- Stiffness in the big toe and an inability to bend it up or down.
- Swelling around the joint.
Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications are often prescribed to reduce swelling and ease the pain. Applying ice packs or taking contrast baths (which use alternating cold and hot water to reduce inflammation) may also help reduce inflammation and control symptoms for a short period of time.
A stiff-soled shoe with a rocker or roller bottom design and possibly even a steel shank or metal brace in the sole can alleviate the symptoms. This type of shoe supports the foot when you walk and reduces the amount of bend in the big toe.
When damage is mild or moderate, a surgical procedure may be performed to remove the bone spurs, as well as a portion of the foot bone, to allow the toe more room to bend.