Hallux rigidus is a disorder in which the motion of the big toe or hallux joint of the foot is rigid and is often associated with osteoarthritis. The large toe joint of the foot is really quite an important joint in the body as it needs to bend so the leg can move ahead over the foot planted on the ground when walking. If anything obstructs the motion at that joint, then advancing forward will likely be a lot harder and this will result on a lot of extra load of on other joints that have to bend more as that big toe joint is not moving adequately. This could bring about pain in the big toe and also other joints due to the compensatory motion at those other joints. In addition, it causes an abnormal wear pattern on the shoes. The chief cause of hallux rigidus is usually a previous injury to the joint. After a while this sets up a process of abnormal use that leads to more damage and osteoarthritis to the joint. Gradually, the limited motion of the joint becomes even more restricted with the joint eventually becoming rigid with no movement possible.
The simplest way to deal with a hallux rigidus is appropriate therapy for the initial injury with good rehabilitation and the use of exercises to prevent or slow down the development of the osteoarthritis. If the joint is painful, then drug treatments and injection therapy into the joint works extremely well for the pain. Using a more rigid sole footwear is frequently helpful as this decreases the demand on the joint to flex. Some shoes may also have a rocker added to them, so that you move over the rocker and do not need to use the joint as much. If these conservative approaches are not helpful, then the next step is surgical.