Although many of us try to ignore aches and pains, having these sensations in your big toe can be concerning when they interfere with your ability to do basic activities like walk or take the stairs. You’ve heard of gout before, and your big toe hurts, so is that what’s causing your pain? Did you know that there are differential diagnoses for gout? This means the symptoms you thought were caused by gout could actually be caused by a different condition. If you’re looking for a reason your big toe hurts that’s not gout it could be a condition called hallux limitus. Let’s take a look at what hallux limitus is and how it’s different from gout, its symptoms and causes, and how to treat this bothersome big toe pain that’s not gout.
What is hallux limitus and how is it different from gout?
Hallux limitus is the initial stage of a gradual onset of arthritis in the big toe, which causes the range of motion in the big toe to be limited. Hallux rigidus is used to describe the later stages, where the big toe becomes rigid and difficult to move or flex. Both hallux limitus and rigidus are caused by the decomposition of cartilage around the joint of the big toe, which causes pain and limited range of motion. Although the pain can feel similar to gout, gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that occurs when uric acid found in the blood stream gets deposited and becomes crystalized in the joint at the base of the big toe.
Symptoms and causes
Now you’re left asking, how do I know that the pain in my big toe isn’t gout? Because gout is considered an inflammatory type of arthritis, it usually causes a warm, red, and swollen area around the joint of the big toe to appear, whereas hallux limitus is more of a persistent pain with limitation of motion. As always, you should definitely seek medical care at the onset of any new symptoms. Generally, patients with hallux limitus report symptoms such as:
- loss of motion
- trouble walking
Although hallux limitus is considered to be idiopathic, meaning it has no known cause, certain factors are known to contribute to the development of this condition:
- faulty function
- wear and tear
- structural abnormalities
If left untreated, hallux limitus can become more painful and turn into hallux rigidus, causing the big toe joint to turn rigid. Fortunately, with the help of a physiotherapist, you can address these symptoms and help prevent hallux limitus from progressing by following a treatment plan that could include:
- improving range of motion
- activity modification
- joint stabilization and protection
- custom orthotics
Hallux limitus is treatable with physiotherapy. Book now to start your recovery!