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Hallux Limitus

Hallux limitus is the name given to osteoarthritis or “wear and tear” of the big toe joint.


In a normal joint the surfaces of the bone are covered by cartilage, allowing one surface of the joint to glide smoothly over the other.


As the cartilage wears away, the bones rub together results in pain.


As the condition progresses, the body lays down additional bone around the joint margins, which restricts the movement and can obliterate it all together.


As the arthritis in the joint gets worse, as shown in the picture below, the treatment options change. In severe cases, conservative care can be less helpful and it is often difficult to save the joint. Although this condition is progressive the rate of deterioration varies from person to person.

The department has categorised the hallux limitus into mild, moderate and severe.

The cause of osteoarthritis is not clear. Sometimes it is due to a specific joint injury or fracture. However, in most cases we are not sure. Many suggestions have been made, which include poor foot function, an abnormally long first metatarsal, as well as problems in the formation of cartilage. Most people find that the symptoms are made worse by increased activity or wearing shoes with high heels.


This is made by clinical examination and X-rays. The severity of the joint disease on X-ray can vary from mild to severe, although this does not necessarily correlate directly with the symptoms experienced.

Treatment options for hallux limitus and recovery can be found on the attached document. 

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