Hallux rigidus: How do I approach it?

Aaron Lam, Jimmy J. Chan, Michele F. Surace, Ettore Vulcano

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Hallux rigidus is a degenerative disease of the first metatarsalphalangeal (MTP) joint and affects 2.5% of people over age 50. Dorsal osteophytes and narrowed joint space leads to debilitating pain and limited range of motion. Altered gait mechanics often ensued as 119% of the body force transmit through the 1st MTP joint during gait cycle. Precise etiology remains under debate with trauma being often cited in the literature. Hallux valgus interphalangeus, female gender, inflammatory and metabolic conditions have all been identified as associative factors. Clinical symptoms, physical exam and radiographic evidence are important in assessing and grading the disease. Non-operative managements including nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, intraarticular injections, shoe modification, activity modification and physical therapy, should always be attempted for all hallux rigidus patients. The goal of surgery is to relieve pain, maintain stability of the first MTP joint, and improve function and quality of life. Operative treatments can be divided into joint-sparing vs joint-sacrificing. Cheilectomy and moberg osteotomy are examples of joint-sparing techniques that have demonstrated great success in early stages of hallux rigidus. Arthrodesis is a joint-sacrificing procedure that has been the gold standard for advanced hallux rigidus. Other newer procedures such as implant arthroplasty, interpositional arthroplasty and arthroscopy, have demonstrated promising early patient outcomes. However, future studies are still needed to validate its long-term efficacy and safety. The choice of procedure should be based on the condition of the joint, patient's goal and expectations, and surgeon's experience with the technique.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-371
Number of pages8
JournalWorld Journal of Orthopedics
Issue number5
StatePublished - 18 May 2017


  • Arthodesis
  • Arthrodiastasis
  • Arthroplasty
  • Cheilectomy
  • Hallux rigidus
  • Interpositional arthroplasty
  • Moberg osteotomy


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