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Hallux limitus/rigidus

What is it?

What causes it?

Reduced motion (hallux limitus) or complete loss of motion (hallux rigidus) in the big toe joint [1,2].

Hallux rigidus of the right foot

Hallux limitus and hallux rigidus can be caused by abnormal biomechanics of the foot. If you have very high or very low arches, you are more likely to lose motion in the big toe joint. Other times, the problem can be a result of overusing the joint, previous injury, or arthritis.

What are the symptoms?

Your big toe may be painful and stiff when you walk or physically try to move it, and sometimes it might become painful all of the time [3]. There may also be redness and swelling around the joint [1,2]. You may find it difficult to wear certain shoes. If your big toe joint is not functioning properly, this can lead to increased pressure in other areas of the foot, and you may develop hard skin and corns.

What podiatry treatments are available?

  • Biomechanical assessment and management – at Open Podiatry we will fully assess your foot function by carrying out a series of walking, standing and non-weight bearing tests. You may be prescribed insoles to redistribute the load going through your painful big toe. Insoles will also support your arches and allow the feet to function correctly.

  • Footwear assessment and advice – we will assess your shoes to make sure they are the correct width, length and depth for your foot type. Some types of shoes can improve pain in the big toe joint – our podiatrist will advise on this.


  1. Richie, D. (2009) How to treat hallux rigidus in runners. Podiatry Today, 22 (4).

  2. Dananberg H, J. (1986) Functional hallux limitus and its relationship to gait efficiency. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, 76 (11), p648-652. 

  3. Payne, C., Dananberg, H. (1997) Sagittal plane facilitation of the foot. Australian Journal of Podiatric Medical Association, 31, (1), p7-11.

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