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Hallux Limitus

Hallux Limitus refers to loss of motion in the joint at the base of the great toe, which is also called the hallux. The joint itself is called the first metatarsal phalangeal joint, or 1st MPJ. This occurs when the cartilage over the ends of the first metatarsal and phalanx bones starts to erode, affecting the gliding motion of the joint and the ability of the great toe to move up over the metatarsal bone while walking. Sometimes if the first metatarsal bone is elevated too much this can also affect the ability of the great toe to move over the metatarsal bone while walking. Over time, bone spurs may form around the joint, further limiting the motion of the great toe. Eventually, the joint may become so damaged that motion is completely lost and the great toe cannot move or bend when walking. At this point, the joint is rigid.

There are ways in which hallux limitus can be managed and made more comfortable in shoes. These include:

  • Splinting
  • Padding
  • Wearing rocker bottom shoes
  • Cortisone injections
  • Use of oral anti-inflammatory medication, such as Ibuprofen.

Additionally, custom orthotics may be helpful to control movements of the foot that may contribute to worsening of the deformity over time. However, they will not correct the deformity that is already present.

If conservative care fails to alleviate the pain, then surgery to improve motion in the 1st MPJ may be pursued. This is an outpatient surgical procedure which takes about an hour to complete. Ask your podiatrist about your surgical options as well as the necessary recovery.

If you would like to watch a video on hallux limitus surgery with joint replacement, please follow each link for this three-part video series:

“Arthrosurface toe DF metatarsal resurfacing technique” – Arthrosurface Part 1

“Arthrosurface toe DF metatarsal resurfacing technique” – Arthrosurface Part 2

“Arthrosurface toe DF metatarsal resurfacing technique” – Arthrosurface Part 3

(This video includes live operative footage and may be disturbing to some audiences.)

If you would like to watch a video on hallux limitus surgery without joint replacement, please follow this link:

“Cheilectomy” vasudevaspai

(This video includes live operative footage and may be disturbing to some audiences.)