Big Toe Arthritis

Big Toe Arthritis (Hallux Rigidus)

Even in today’s sedentary world, we rely heavily on our feet to get around. For this reason, foot pain can seriously alter your day-to-day life. Sometimes, however, this foot pain doesn’t go away on its own — in fact, it may be a more serious problem than you originally thought. One of these common but painful conditions is known as hallux rigidus, or big toe arthritis. This condition occurs when osteoarthritis develops in the joint at the base of your big toe and can make common activities such as walking difficult to perform.

While preventative treatments and at-home remedies may keep this condition at bay, it is sometimes necessary to undergo more invasive procedures to fix the issue. But what causes big toe arthritis, and what’s the best treatment option for you?

What causes big toe arthritis?

The exact cause of big toe arthritis is unknown, but there are a few contributing factors that can put you at risk. These include:

  • Family history of big toe arthritis or other joint conditions
  • Obesity
  • Personal history of joint injuries or complications

Symptoms of Big Toe Arthritis

As with any kind of arthritis, hallux rigidus is accompanied by joint pain and stiffness. At the base of the big toe, patients most commonly experience:

  • Tenderness
  • Joint pain
  • Achiness
  • Burning sensation
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling and inflammation

Risks & Complications

As with other types of arthritis, ignoring symptoms of hallux rigidus or avoiding treatment can further the problem. Oftentimes, people wearing heels or other motion heavy footwear can aggregate the condition. As such, you can sometimes avoid complications by changing the shoes you wear. Some complications that occur with big toe arthritis include:

  • Spurs – bony protrusions that often appear as visible bumps on your toe, similar in appearance to a callus. These can develop when your body tries to compensate for the degenerative effects of osteoarthritis by growing more bone tissue
  • Ankylosing – joint stiffness due to abnormal rigidity of the bones
  • Bunions – physical changes from big toe arthritis can cause pain and inflammation at the base of your big toe, enlarging the joint capsules

Treatment Options for Big Toe Arthritis

At Home Treatments

As a first line of defense when big toe arthritis develops, there are several at-home remedies that can help alleviate symptoms and reduce pain. These include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication
  • Icing the affected area to reduce inflammation
  • Footwear appropriate for your foot shape and movement patterns
  • Healthy diet and exercise to reduce chances of obesity, unnecessary strain on your foot joints

Professional Treatment Options

In many cases, at-home treatments can help treat the symptoms but do not prevent the condition from intensifying. When non-surgical options are no longer working, patients may need to consider surgical options. The most common treatment and surgeries  include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Prescription pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Bone spur removal (cheilectomy)
  • Stem cell treatments
  • Joint fusion (arthrodesis)
  • Joint resurfacing or replacement (arthroplasty)


Recovery from big toe arthritis treatment will differ based on what surgery was performed. For a joint replacement (arthroplasty), specialized footwear is required for a few weeks before returning to normal footwear and activity. For fusion procedures, recovery takes longer, usually two to three months with a boot/cast and a gradual return to normal activity thereafter. Once the recovery is complete, patients can return to regular physical activity, though high-intensity activities may be too strenuous for some people, especially those who have undergone a joint replacement.

Contact Innovations Medical for Big Toe Arthritis Treatment

If you’re suffering from big toe arthritis or other chronic or neuropathic pain, Innovations Medical is here for you. Our skilled professionals help you decide which stem cell therapy treatment is best for you – keeping you informed and confident in the next steps. We’ve been helping our patients look and feel their best since 2005, and even our most advanced procedures are often minimally invasive.

To find out if stem cell therapy is right for you, and to learn how Innovations Medical can improve your life, call us at (214) 643-8665 or schedule an appointment.