Hallux Limitus Treatment

Do you suffer from limited joint movement, pain and immobility? If you’re living or working in Cottesloe, East Fremantle, Mosman Park and Fremantle we would love to help you! 


Hallux limitus is a mechanical condition characterized by limited extension of the big toe joint. Hallux rigidus is the ‘end-stage’ of the condition whereby any noted range of motion is negligible; by this stage the joint is almost fused. The limited joint motion can be attributed to degenerative changes within the joint (arthritis), or the formation of extra bone on the upper joint margin (exostosis) which form a physical block to the motion in the joint. It is important to distinguish this condition from other medical conditions such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis which can often present similarly.


As this is often regarded as a ‘wear and tear’ condition, the incidence of hallux limitus/rigidus is closely related to the age of the patient.

Causes and contributing factors:

Damage to the first toe joint can be associated with general ‘wear and tear’; as the first toe joint is responsible for bearing most of the weight during running and walking activities. The rate of deterioration however can be accelerated by several factors:

  • Structural anatomy of the foot; particularly the alignment of the 1st metatarsal
  • Shoes that are fitted inappropriately
  • Poor foot and/or lower limb alignment and biomechanics
  • Direct trauma
  • Generalised osteoarthritic conditions
  • Family history


The symptoms experienced will often depend on the weight, activity levels, footwear and foot alignment or posture of the individual patient. The extent of any joint destruction will also dictate any pain or discomfort involved. There are always exceptions, but in most instances, the pain experienced will often diminish as the joint progressively fuses.


  • Rest and ice
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Functional foot orthotics to stabilize the forefoot to slow down joint destruction
  • Footwear change
  • Gentle mobilization (ONLY under specific circumstances!)
  • Surgery as a last result