What is a functional hallux limitus?
The big toe joint in the foot is an essential joint for normal function and running or walking. When we are walking and the foot is flat on the ground, that big toe joint has to bend as the rearfoot comes off the floor. If that hallux joint will not bend then to be able to walk will likely be much more challenging. More energy is required so walking gets very fatiguing. As the motion which is not able to take place at the great toe or hallux joint still has got to take place, other joints can be pushed to move more during a period that they're not meant to be moving. This unnatural movement can become painful.
There are a number of problems that may go wrong with that great toe or hallux joint and obstruct this normal motion. One of the most frequent issues is a condition that usually will get called hallux rigidus and as its name suggests, the great toe joint is rigid and does not move. The commonest reason behind this is osteoarthritis in that hallux joint. Sometimes it is very painful and the stiff great toe joint makes running or walking very difficult. The most common treatments for this are drugs to decrease your pain, rocker sole shoes to encourage some movement to take place and also surgical procedures about the joint.
A less severe form of hallux rigidus can be a problem known as hallux limitus where the hallux joint isn't rigid however has a diminished range of motion. Since a full range of motion is needed at the big toe or hallux joint for normal function, this limited movement is still an issue. The most common cause for this problem is also osteoarthritis. Typically the treatments for hallux limitus is pain relief with medicine, from time to time strapping can be used to limit motion even more so that it's not too painful. Foot orthotics will often be used to encourage a more normal motion with the hallux joint. In the most painful cases surgical treatment could be an option in which a joint implant may be performed or the hallux joint is operatively fused to end it moving.
Another very frequent problem is what is known as functional hallux limitus. This is known as functional since on a non-weightbearing assessment the great toe joint has a normal range of flexion, however when functioning with the foot on the floor it really does not have the full range of flexion. The explanation for a functional hallux limitus is just not known and the rationale why that great toe joint does not work only when weightbearing is not really clear. This simply appears to occurs in some individuals. Several hypotheses have already been proposed, many of which appear probable but there is hardly any direct data for one above the other.
There are a number of treatment solutions for a functional hallux limitus that are aimed at restoring normal motion to the big toe joint. Foot doctors commonly use foot supports with assorted corrections like a first metatarsal cut out, some sort of Kinetic Wedge or a Cluffy Wedge. All of these designs attempt to increase the movement at the great toe or hallux joint to help make the joint function more efficiently and stop the functional hallux limitus from interfering with gait.