By Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care
February 28, 2017
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Cold weather can trigger certain podiatric conditions. Have you noticed a stiffness or pain in the joint of your big toe (particularly on those very chilly or damp days)? Is it swollen, red and warm to the touch? Is there a bump on the top of the joint? Do activities such as squatting or running seem more difficult? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have the beginnings of a disorder known as Hallux Rigidus. Since many patients at Affiliated Foot & Ankle Care have not heard of this condition, here are a few facts to help you better understand what it is and how it can be treated.

  1. Hallux rigidus is an arthritic condition. Sometimes patients mistake it for a bunion because of the bony growth on the top of the joint but hallux rigidus is very different. In the case of a bunion, the bump is usually on the side of the toe and it is caused by the joint shifting out of place. With hallux rigidus, the bump on the top of the joint is actually a bone spur that forms as a result of bone rubbing on bone because the cartilage in the joint has worn away.
  2. Hallux rigidus is a progressive disorder. It will only get worse over time without treatment. In fact, in its early stages, this disorder is called hallux limitus. Hallux means toe and limitus means limited. Initially the toe may be stiff and have a limited range of motion. Over time the condition becomes hallux rigidus, meaning the toe is rigid and unable to bend.
  3. Severe disability and pain can occur with hallux rigidus. Pay attention to your big toe as you stand, walk, run, squat or bend. Each of those movements requires the flexing of the big toe. The inability of the toe to bend creates a debilitating condition for the patient.
  4. Non-invasive treatment is available. If our board certified foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Varun Gujral and Dr. Nrupa Shah, diagnose hallux limitus, they may recommend orthotics, strapping or splinting the toe and/or physical therapy along with medications to relieve pain and inflammation. If, however, the toe becomes completely rigid, surgery may be required.

If cold days are causing discomfort in your big toe joint (or other joints in your feet or ankles) contact our Edison, Monroe or Monmouth Junction office sooner rather than later for an appointment by calling: 732-662-3050.