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Family Foot Care & Surgery, LLC

How to Stay Mobile with a Stiff Big Toe

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We’re used to expecting a good freeze during Connecticut winters, but experiencing a gradual freezing of motion in the big toe is a much more surprising and worrisome development. Treatment for this arthritic condition, hallux rigidus, can range from conservative to surgical, depending on the severity of damage to the joint, but the goal is always to increase comfort and restore mobility when possible.

Conservative treatments our almost always our first resort in treating a stiff big toe. These may involve changing your footwear to shoes with larger toe boxes to reduce pressure on the big toe. If you love wearing high heels, you may unfortunately need to put a stop to wearing them as well. Custom-made orthotics or braces may also be inserted into the shoe to provide added support while walking.

Anti-inflammatory and pain relieving medications can help with discomfort when needed. Cold therapy might also prove helpful.

If conservative treatments fail to provide enough relief, then surgical options may need to be considered. The best type of procedure will depend on the severity of the condition and other factors, but several possibilities exist.

In milder cases, a cheilectomy can be performed. This involves removing any bone spurs that may be present as well as a portion of the bone itself, providing more room for the toe to flex. It is a big procedure, but often results in long-term benefit.

Arthrodesis fuses the bones of the joint together, and may be the best option for those with severe hallux rigidus damage. The toe will no longer be able to bend, but the tradeoff is that pain is often reliably reduced.

Older patients might find arthroplasty, or a joint replacement, the best way to reduce pain and preserve mobility, especially if one’s lifestyle does not place heavy demands on the feet.

Finding the proper treatment for a stiff big toe is not to be taken lightly, and the sooner the problem is addressed, the better the options tend to be. Dr. Sanjay Patel and the staff at Family Foot Care & Surgery are here to provide you the best care for your specific needs. Schedule an appointment with us today by calling (203) 876-7736 for our Milford office or (203) 288-4055 for our Hamden office. 
Dr. Sanjay V. Patel
Dr. Patel has over 20 years of experience in the field of podiatric medicine and podiatric surgery.
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