Toe Joint Replacement
In the late stages of progressive arthritis, known as hallux rigidus, stiffness and pain in the toe joint are unbearable. Over time, bending the big toe (metatarsal phalangeal) becomes increasingly harder. In earlier stages of this disorder, the joint is limited and referred to as hallux limitus. This progressive condition can result from various causes, leading to osteoarthritis in the big toe joint. Common causes include structural abnormalities of the foot, including excessive pronation of the ankles and/or fallen arches. For some people, this disorder is due purely to genetics and runs in the family.
Early signs or symptoms of hallux rigidus include the following:
- Swelling and inflammation around the joint
- Pain aggravated by cold weather
- Difficulty running or squatting
- Pain or stiffness in the big toe during use
- Difficulty wearing shoes
- Pain during rest
- Pain in knee or back from walking
- Walking with a limp
Surgical treatment of this condition varies depending upon the extent of the arthritis and its symptoms. The most commonly replaced joint in the foot is the metatarsal phalangeal. In this procedure, the damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint. The advantage of this operation is that the toe will remain flexible. The alternative is fusing the joint using a screw or pin, which does not allow for any mobility. There are also advantages and disadvantages to procedures for the lesser toes, which should be discussed with your doctor to determine the best surgical solution.
NOTE: Given hallux rigidus is a progressive disorder, one should seek medical attention at the first sign or symptom of the condition.