By definition, “stiff” means something doesn’t bend easily. It is rigid and difficult to move. This could be because it was made that way, like a stiff board, or because it has become that way, like a rusted hinge. Your body’s joints aren’t supposed to be stiff—they are supposed to bend smoothly and easily. Unfortunately, problems like hallux rigidus in your big toe can leave you struggling to walk normally.
From Smooth to Stiff Big Toes
Hallux rigidus literally means “stiff big toe.” It’s actually a form of arthritis that affects the joint where your first toe meets its metatarsal bone in the ball of the foot. This joint is crucial for your ability to walk. It has to be able to bend and straighten to help you push off the ground and move forward. If it is rigid, you lose that critical motion in your foot and impair your mobility.
The problem arises when something, usually faulty biomechanics, wears away the protective joint lining in the big toe. The bones end up rubbing together, grinding against each other and causing more damage and inflammation. Eventually the friction makes it harder and harder for your toe to bend. After a while it can make most activities extremely uncomfortable, or even impossible. In severe cases, you might develop a bone spur on the top or side of the joint.