Hallux Limitus / Rigidus


Hallux limitus / rigidus is a common condition of the big toe joint where the joint itself has a reduced or limited ability to bend. Bending that is available is often painful. When walking or running, pain is predominantly noted at the push off point as the upwards bend of the joint is reduced. The measurement of how much restriction exists determines if the joint is “limited” or in more sever cases “rigid”.


Painful restricted motion of the big toe joint. Passive motion of the joint illustrates the amount of range of motion loss.

Symptoms & Signs

Pain is very localized in the big to joint (1st MTP joint). It may radiate out to the big toe. Once joint deformation or enlargement occurs due to the formation of osteophytes (a bony outgrowth associated with the degeneration of cartilage at joints) the joint often begins to become painful. Most pain often occurs at push off with the foot as the heel rises.


Specific orthotics, braces, compression sleeves and socks, boots, footwear and other products are manufactured or fitted to help your recovery.

Symptoms & Cause

The onset of Hallux limitus / rigidus can be from a prior trauma(s) to the joint or from repeated stresses to the joint over many years. It is a common condition where pain may not become apparent until there is a significant reduced or limited ability to bend the big toe joint. Due to the biomechanics of walking or running the joint if often being forced to try to bend further than the available range of motion. Compression of friction from footwear can also exacerbate the symptoms. The measurement of how much of arestriction exists determines if the joint is “limited” or in more sever cases “rigid”.

Rigid Toe Plate

Pedorthic Treatment

There are various treatments to help decrease pain in the big toe joint associated with hallux limitus or rigidus. Unlike “functional” hallux limitus which can improve, the structural version is a chronic condition that is only reversible with surgery for appropriate candidates. in cases of functional hallux limitis the goal is to reduce pressure or loading of the joint via pronation control with orthotics. In cases where joint deterioration is severe, devices that limit the painful range of motion such as a rigid toe plate, or custom foot orthotics with a rigid big toe extension.

  • Rigid toe plates (Shown in Image on Left)
  • Rigid rocker sole footwear modification
  • Custom foot orthotics
  • Footwear stretching
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Surgical intervention

If you are experiencing foot pain or discomfort, you should consult your physician for a proper diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan.


Your doctor may refer you to  OKAPED’s to see a Canadian Certified Pedorthist for Pedorthic management of your foot pain. This may include orthopaedic footwear, shoe selection guidance, orthotics and/or foot related products such as a metatarsal pad. If you know your condition and want to learn about new products and treatments please give us a call.