Osteoarthrosis of the big toe joint is common and can be very painful. It is known as hallux rigidus due to the loss of mobility of the big toe joint.
The big toe joint is subject to great stresses throughout life and normally is very well designed to cope with this. Wear and tear does occur in some individuals perhaps after long forgotten injury and results in the development of deformity of the joint surfaces causing a very stiff joint.
This joint deformity causes bony prominences to rub on the shoe and adds to the pain. The cartilage breaks down in the joint itself and bone on bone contact causes considerable pain as well. Stiffness is often more of a problem than deformity and makes walking on tip toe impossible.
This is not a problem that readily responds to changes of foot wear and once the joint is well worn, spontaneous remission of the pain does not occur. This is best treated by fusing (stiffening) the big toe joint. This allows improved walking, easier shoe fitting and dramatically relieves the pain.