Toe Joint Replacement


In late stages of a progressive arthritis known as hallux rigidus, stiffness and pain in the toe joint are unbearable. Over time it becomes increasingly harder to bend the big toe (metatarsal phalangeal). In earlier stages of this disorder, the joint is limited and referred to as hallux limitus. This progressive condition can result from a variety of causes that lead to osteoarthritis in the big toe joint. Common causes include structural abnormalities of the foot including excessive pronation of the ankles and/or fallen arches. For some people this disorder is due purely to genetics and runs in the family.

Early signs or symptoms of Hallux Rigidus include the following:

  • swelling and inflammation around joint
  • pain aggravated by cold weather
  • difficulty running or squatting
  • pain or stiffness in big toe during use
  • difficulty wearing shoes
  • pain during rest
  • pain in knee or back from walking
  • walking with a limp

Surgical treatment of this condition varies depending upon the extent of the arthritis and symptoms. The most commonly replaced joint in the foot is the metatarsal phalangeal. In this procedure, the damaged joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint. The advantage of this operation is that the toe will remain flexible. The alternative is fusing the joint using a screw or pin which does not allow for any mobility. There are also advantages and disadvantages to procedures for the lesser toes, which should be discussed with your doctor to determine the best surgical solution.

NOTE: Given hallux rigidus is a progressive disorder, one should seek medical attention at the first sign or symptom of the condition.

If you’ve experienced any pain or discomfort in your toes, request an appointment online by submitting the form on this page or call Coastal Podiatry & Wound Care at (904) 265-0470 to learn more about joint replacement in the feet.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website is an educational resource. It is not intended to serve as a recommendation for the treatment or management of any medical condition. All decisions involving medical procedures or surgery should be made in conjunction with your physician or orthopedic surgeon.

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