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Hallux Rigidus

The condition in which the great toe has very limited motion first came to Dr. Pullen's attention when his son, who was playing baseball at the time, was having pain in his foot when he tried to push off of it or play for an extended period of time.

This article originally appeared online at Dr.Pullen.com, part of the HCPLive network.

The star scoring guard of the Washington Husky basketball team, Isiah Thomas, had surgery after the season for Hallux Rigidus, a condition where the great toe has very limited motion and will not bend upward properly. The cause of this is unknown, though some experts feel that repetitive trauma, especially hyperextension of the great toe, may lead to Hallux Rigidus.

I first learned about this condition when I took my adolescent son to a podiatrist several years ago. He was a baseball player, and was having foot pain when he tried to push off his foot, or play his infield position for long periods of time. I was surprised not to have known about this as it is the second most common cause of chronic great toe pain after bunions. (Hallux valgus) The diagnosis is simple to suspect since trying to push the upward makes it hurt, and the toe just seems stuck, it won’t move upward. Although the great toe Metatarsophalangeal joint (first joint between the foot and the toe) is not high on the list of joints that need to function to perform as an athlete, to an athlete and to the rest of us, full function of the great toe, especially the metatarsophalangeal joint, is. It is very important to anyone who needs to move quickly and painlessly on their feet.

The good news for Isaiah is that the surgery he had is very likely to be successful. He must be one tough guy to have performed as well as he did last year with this condition. It can be very painful, and must have reduced his quickness, leaping ability, and ability to push off the affected foot. I expect him to have a full recovery, and to explode on the scene next year with a fully functioning big toe.

Ed Pullen, MD, is a board-certified family physician practicing in Puyallup, WA. He blogs at DrPullen.com — A Medical Bog for the Informed Patient.