Big Toe Pain? Is it Hallux Rigidus?

There are an array of factors that can contribute to big toe pain and sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between hallux rigidus – a disorder of the joint that is located at the base of the big toe or a bunion – a bony bump that forms on the joint where your big toe meets your foot. It is important to see a podiatrist if you are experiencing any pain in your big toe joint. Hallux rigidus and bunions require very different treatments. If either are misdiagnosed or left untreated, pain will increase and other problems can ensue.

When it is Hallux Rigidus

Hallux rigidus is a form of degenerative arthritis and when it occurs, the big toe gets stiff and becomes increasingly harder to move and bend.

Because hallux rigidus is a progressive condition, the toe’s motion decreases as time goes on. In its beginning stages Doctors refer to this disorder as hallux limitus, however; as the joint stiffens more and range of motion gradually decreases, the toe is referred to as a “frozen joint” or “rigidus”.

Limited motion of the big toe caused by hallux rigidus


Symptoms of Hallux rigidus can include:

  • Pain in the big toe during use (doing any activity)
  • Stiffness
  • Aggravation by cold, damp weather
  • Lack of range of motion in the toe
  • Swelling and inflammation


It is important that if you experience any of the symptoms above that you make an appointment at one of our Da Vinci Foot and Ankle locations. One of our Doctors will examine your feet and move the toe to determine its range of motion. In order to determine severity and rule out other abnormalities, X-rays may be taken. Of course our Doctors will be able to quickly distinguish if you have a bunion or hallux rigidus and which treatment path is right for you.


In some cases, surgery is the only way to eliminate or reduce pain in the big toe joint. Surgical treatment can only be determined by a foot and ankle surgeon and will only be suggested as a last resort if self-care and management does not alleviate symptoms. Da Vinci Foot and Ankle surgeons have worked hard to minimize the incision for this surgery and maximize the results that you have from it.

You don’t have to live with pain. Da Vinci Foot and Ankle can help!

CLICK HERE to book your next appointment at Da Vinci Foot and Ankle.

Lake Oconee, GA 706-999-9994

West Augusta, GA 706-597-0102