Hallux rigidus is a problem in which the motion of the big toe or hallux joint of the feet are rigid and is frequently associated with osteoarthritis. The big toe joint of the foot is really quite a significant joint in the body as it has to flex so the leg can move forward over the foot when walking. If anything prevents the movement at that joint, then forward movement will probably be a lot harder and force will probably be added to adjacent joints that have to move more as that joint is not bending properly. This tends to bring about pain in the great toe or hallux joint and also other joints. In addition, it will cause an unusual wear pattern on the footwear. The chief cause of hallux rigidus is generally a prior injury to the joint. After a while this sets up a process of abnormal use which leads to further damage and osteoarthritis to the joint. Gradually the restricted motion of the joint is even further restricted and the joint becomes rigid with no motion at all.
The best way to manage a Hallux Rigidus is appropriate therapy for the initial trauma with good rehabilitation and the use of exercises in order to avoid or slow down the developments of the osteoarthritis. When the joint is painful, then medications and injection therapy into the joint can be used for the pain. Using a more rigid sole shoe is frequently helpful as this decreases the demand on the joint to bend. Some footwear may also have a rocker added to them, in order that you pivot over the rocker and don't need to use the joint as much. If these conservative measures aren't helpful, then the alternative is surgical. There are many alternatives here. The easiest, if indicated, is to simply remove some bone of the top of the joint to allow it to flex more. If that is not feasible, then the joint can be surgically fused to prevent it bending. This fusion deals with the symptoms from the osteoarthritis since the joint can't move.