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Family Foot Care & Surgery, LLC

Why You’re Doing the Zombie Shuffle with a Stiff Toe

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Classic zombies shuffle. In some modern movies you might see the undead running, but in classic monster lore, zombies shuffle around on stiff, slow limbs. So when your own joints stiffen up, you can develop a quite zombie-like gait trying to get around. Developing a zombie shuffle from something like a stiff big toe isn’t as random as the undead outbreaks in movies tend to be, though. There’s a reason you develop hallux rigidus and lose mobility.

Hallux rigidus, which simply means “stiff big toe,” is arthritis in the joint where your big toe and first metatarsal meet in the ball of your foot.  It’s a progressive condition that makes bending and using that digit increasingly more difficult as time goes on. As you might imagine, that makes it bother harder and more painful to walk normally, not to mention participate in other activities.

There are multiple ways you can develop a stiff big toe. The most common is a biomechanical problem that wears down the protective layers in the affected joint. You have smooth, slippery tissues in the big toe to help it glide and bend easily. If you naturally stress that joint more than normal when you walk or are otherwise active, you can wear those tissues down until the hard bone grinds against bone. This creates the painful friction that grinds your toe to a stop.

This damage can also develop after an injury. A severe injury to your big toe that tears these tissues or otherwise hurts them can make them more likely to wear away later. Eventually your toe still grinds down and ends up stiff.

Sometimes even overuse is enough to trigger the wear and tear, too. Working a job that stresses the big toe with lots of stooping or squatting could do it. Some athletes who put immense pressure on the big toe may be prone to it as well.

No matter what caused it, though, if you’re starting to shuffle like a zombie with a painfully stiff big toe, you need to take care of it. Unlike whatever it is that creates the undead, hallux rigidus can be treated. Don’t wait until it controls your mobility to get help. Contact Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C. today for an appointment. You can reach us online, or by phone: (203) 288-4055 for our office in Hamden, or (203) 876-7736 for the one in Milford.

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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