How has big toe arthritis traditionally been treated, and does it have limitations?

Dr. Barnett discusses traditional big toe arthritis treatment and its limitations. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.


Traditionally, there are only a couple treatment options for big toe arthritis, known as hallux rigidus. An effective treatment for severe cases is to fuse both parts of the joint together, according to Premier Health Specialists’ (PHS) physicians.

With this surgery – called arthrodesis – the toe will no longer be able to bend, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Other treatment options, according to the AAOS, include:

  • Arthroplasty – This is usually only an option for older patients with few functional demands of their feet. The toe joint is replaced with an artificial joint.
  • Cheilectomy – This surgery is recommended for mild or moderate joint damage. With this surgery, the bone spur and a portion of the foot bone are removed so the toe has more room to bend.
  • Non-surgical treatment – Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can help reduce swelling and ease pain. Ice packs can help reduce inflammation for short periods of time. Wearing shoes with wide, open toe areas can help reduce pressure.

Talk to your doctor for more information about treatment options for big toe arthritis.

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