Hallux Limitus vs. Hallux Rigidus

Reader Mike writes“I was recently diagnosed with functional hallux limitus after developing a strong interest in hiking (and having never done any other long distance running, or walking type things before that) Do you have any recommendations for a good hiking boot/shoe? I’m currently using Montrail CTC.”

Hallux limitus is a condition whereby the big toe joint becomes restricted during weight bearing but is otherwise healthy, hence the name functional. In this condition you still have cartilage with little to no arthritis in the joint. Pain arises with excessive flexion of the great toe or while standing due to pronation and rolling onto the big toe joint, causing restricted motion.

In Hallux rigidus, the great toe joint becomes arthritic with associated cartilage loss, resulting in bone on bone motion which is very painful. This is a structural problem usually requiring surgery to correct.

In this video, my associate Dr. Sandi Pollard talks more about these conditions.

In hallux rigidus, you want to stop motion, in hallux limitus you want to improve motion. For both conditions an inflexible or stiff soled shoe is usually best which fortunately most hiking boots have. I have several patients with hallux rigidus, who I have wear only hiking boots becuase this eliminates the pain. For my hallux limitus patients I can usually stop the pain by getting them into shoes that are primarily inflexible in the forefoot. Montrail CTC is a classic example of this. Custom orthotics can also help since they improve big toe joint function.

For even more information about hallux limitus read my other post http://drshoe.wordpress.com/2008/01/08/shoe-design-for-hallux-limitus-ie-turf-toe-non-bunion-pain/ which talks about sole design.

About these ads

255 responses to “Hallux Limitus vs. Hallux Rigidus

  1. Greetings, I love your blog. So I have been diagnosed with Hallux Rigidus. I stumbled on a hiking shoe with very stiff soles Asolo’s, which gave me immediate relief from severe pain. My problem is I need business shoes and hav been unable to find a men’s dress shoe with a similarly stiff sole. If you knew of one it would be very helpful as a few minutes in a standard dress shoe is agony for me.

    Best

    Steve

    • Try using carbon fiber insoles. They have worked for me. I also use Spenco Total Support insoles #3s. They help a lot.

      • It hurts me to read about someone stretching and pulling their toes. I would think this would be very painful and not helpful. Maybe I am wrong, but ouch! Also, you really need to have orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist. If you buy something over the counter or online, good luck with that. I really think that many people with this problem (I am one) need to know your limits as to how far you can walk with HR/HL. Everything is going to hurt at some point, know your limits and stop when things start hurting.

      • I am actually having better luck with my own orthotics than the professional ones I first had made for a lot of money after I was first diagnosed. Those didn’t address my problem and I was unhappy with them. I’m able to use over the counter arch supports, along with the right shoes, for a better result. I just ordered the dancer pads after reading on this list that they also help – so looking forward to their arrival and trying them out. Thanks everyone for your great advice – this list is invaluable.

  2. I have Hallux Rigidus and have been wearing Dansko shoes to work. They have the rocker bottoms which help a lot, but are not perfect so I am looking for something else to try. I’ve found another brand call Sanita and looking at Merrell Orion. Good luck! Jim

  3. Please help me find the right shoe for the condition of hallux rigidus. It is in my right foot. I can’t wear normal shoes except tennis shoes for a short time.

  4. I have Hallux Rigidus in my left big toe and I live in England where Dansko shoes are not sold. After a lot of research I discovered that MBT (Masai Barefoot Technology) shoes give a quite a bit of relief. They take a little bit of getting used to and you have to have them properly fitted in the shop, otherwise you can waste a lot of money if you get the wrong size, but they do have some styles which would work for going to work, as well as trainer styles.

    I also like ot do hill walking and trail hiking and I am looking for ideal boots.

  5. I am very happy with Naot sandals. I have hallux rigidius and i wear these whenever I can, particularly around the house.

  6. Can anyone recommend a good running shoe for me? I have hallux limitus and was wondering if you have a recommendation. I have worn the Mizuno Wave Rider for years and would switch to a shoe better suited to my needs. I have tried on these shoes and wonder if there is any opinion on them:
    Brooks Glycerin
    Brooks Defyance
    New Balance 1063
    Asics Cumulus

    Thanks – reply to my email celtics2339@yahoo.com.

    Thanks,
    Kenny

  7. I have hallus rigidus and a wide foot. I cannot for the life of me find anything to feel right except for the New Balance 768 which is now not made anymore. I wear orthotics. I am so tired of sending shoes back to Zappos. I just want to be able to walk again. Please help!

  8. You can find carbon fiber insoles that help with hallux rigidus at footshop.com: either a full forefoot spring plate, or one with only the big toe extension. I am using the full forefoot spring plate and it has relieved almost all forefoot pain; I use one for my left foot in all my shoes. Also, I am looking at the Chungshi shoes at footsolutions.com; these will still need the carbon fiber insole since the forefoot flexes, but the shoes have a built-in heel & toe rocker, so that they function as full rocker boot.

  9. I have hallux rigidus and I wear MBTs exclusively. They are pretty ugly, but new styles come out fairly regularly. I tried the Chungshi and I couldn’t walk in them at all – they are much different than the double rocker sole on MBTs. I’ve also tried having my regular shoes modified but they turned out uglier than MBTs. Wish I could find some other double rocker shoes for sale. Dansko didn’t work – they have a rocker sole only in the front, but I need the double rocker (front and back). With MBTs, I have been able to avoid surgery so far (I’ve had it for about 2 years). The surgical options seem pretty limited, and I’ve heard that even if you have the joint fused with a screw, you still need special shoes with rocker soles to walk.

    • Thanks for pointing out that MBT and Chungshi shoes are different. I have hallux rigidus and doc recommended MBTs and I said that I can’t even wear Chungshis because of the pain – I thought they were essentially the same. Also trying to avoid surgery.

  10. I have found that Brooks Addiction Walkers and Ariel running shoes have been very helpful — especially the walkers. At one time these were available for men, too. I’ve also found Keen sandals (the more supportive kind) good – the style I got was called Sarasota. I couldn’t get used to the rocking motion of the Danskos I tried, and in general the leather was overly stiff and bothered my feet. The right shoes mean everything to people with this condition! Good luck.

  11. My Dr. suggested the Brooks *Beast*. It is excellent, and essentially eliminated my problem (left toe H.R.). As soon as he looked at my x-ray he asked if I did a lot of karate, kicking the bag. I guess being able to defend yourself even comes with risks.

    Re. dress shoes, I am actually here today looking for the same thing–I have found a couple brands I am looking into that are *not* ugly–Comfortrite Stanford ($154 on healthyshoes) and PW Minor LS Super X (254!). Good luck.

    • Have you been able to continue with karate and kicking the pads? I have just been diagnosed with H.L and am dreading being told to stop karate training!

  12. I had surgery to alleviate some of the pain of halux rigidis 3 years ago. In the winter I wear Dansko clogs — and they work great. When hiking I wear Wolverine boots with durashock

  13. I had/have hallux rigidus and am recovering from surgery … left foot in May and right in August. I am 53, and very active. I found the women’s shoes that feel the best for me are made by Jambu and J-41. They have several styles that have a stiff sole and are actually cute. I also wear Ariat clogs and sometimes Dansko. I also purchased a very stiff and heavy hiker (Italian) that does all the right things but my feet ache a bit afterwards …

  14. Do any of you ladies know of a women’s business shoe that will accomodate hallux rigidus? It’s hard enough to find the right casual shoe/tennis shoe that will help alleviate pain, but seemingly IMPOSSIBLE to find something that will look decent with a suit and come in a size 5. Any suggestions? As if I haven’t searched the world already!

  15. Great info–thanks for the post.

  16. Peter, what is the “Brooks *Beast*” ??

  17. I have hallux limitus/rigidus and do a lot of walking. I found the stiff boots made it hurt more and limited me to 7-8 miles. I have since bought a very light boot by Inov8 and can walk 14-15 miles with no pain. So much so I am doing the coast to coast in September.

    • Beryl the inov8 make are based on barefoot technology and i’ve been told they are much more flexible that other walking shoes. I have been experimenting with nike frees (based on the same concept) and found that they too have sorted out lower leg pain that stiff boots gave me. My big toe hurts more tho with the nike free but gets the other foot muscles working well. Can you tell me what make of inov8 you have please?

  18. Danish clogs like the ones from Sanita would be perfect, especially the wooden bottom ones. I live in Denmark and was told to wear them when I damaged my big toe.

  19. This is a very interesting blog and I have learnt a lot from it. I have been working as a shoe designer and consultant for several years, and have been always told to make shoes softer and MORE flexible. My husband has very wide feet (size 46) and has had an operation on his hallus valgus about 15 years ago on one foot – so this is close to my heart!

    • MAKE CUTE SHOES WITH STIFF SOLES FOR US ACTIVE OLDER GALS!!!

      • I am with Page Day!!! Please make some cute shoes with stiff soles and a deep footbed!!!! This is what needs to happen — someone in the shoe business reads this blog and then maybe we can convince a shoe company to make shoes for all of us older women with damaged feet. Apparently there are a lot of us out there, I hope something gets accomplished! I am so fed up with trying to find something to wear that isn’t a running type shoe or an ugly orthopedic shoe.

      • I agree with Peggy and page day. I’ve always wondered how I could influence the shoe industry. I think it’s getting better, but there is a long way to go And I want the shoes in small sizes!

  20. Does the surgery for h rigid us work ? I have been told I needed it on both feet,but have heard some one say they knew some one who had the surgery and it did not work out well, I don’t like the thought of screws in my bones but if it works well I guess I would give it ago.
    Thanks for any input, Mike

    • We have had very good success with the surgical correction of hallux rigidus in our office. There are varying degrees of hallux rigidus and surgical outcomes depend on the severity of the condition, the surgical procedure chosen as well as the skill and experience of your surgeon. To find the best surgeon, make sure they are board certified in surgery and will take the time to thoroughly explain the procedure(s) and rationale. It’s sometime helpful to get a 2nd opinion. You can also ask your surgeon to talk with their patient’s who have had the surgery and ask about their results, limitations, etc.

    • I had a cheilectomy surgery for hallux rigidus about 10 years ago. This does not involve screws, but removing arthritis and shaving off part of the bone in order to create room between the bones so they do not rub together and cause pain. My orthopedic surgeon recommended this as a first step. It has not been a perfect “cure,” as I do sometimes have foot pain after standing on my feet a long time. However, I can mostly walk a lot without pain, and I am grateful for that. I have traveled all over the world with no problem. It’s important to wear the right shoes. In my case, that means highly padded, limited bending shoes. My doctor didn’t believe in orthopedics, so I haven’t tried that route. The doc’s advice to you (below) is good. It sounds like the doctor you saw is not recommending cheilectomy, but going to what my doc considered the next stage — fusion. That involves screws. My doc said I’d have limited foot motion with this surgery, and he didn’t recommend it as a first step. So be sure to get other opinions, as you can’t reverse this surgery. Good luck!

  21. I believe that I was blessed with hallux rigidus from wearing clogs which I had to constantly squeeze my foot to hold the clog on when I walked. Most likely from the constant clenching of my foot. It has also caused a Ganglion Cyst on the other side of my foot. Will lay off clenching toes and foot for awhile and see if this helps. Any ideas?

    • A visit to a sports medicine podiatrist for evaluation and treatment is in order. A custom orthotic may be indicated for your hallux limitus and aspiration of the ganglion cyst contents or excision may also be indicated depending on what your doctor finds.

  22. I have Hallux Rigidus for the last 10 years. Stiff soul hiking boots did the trick until now. I was getting knee pain and started walking to one side on the foot to avoid the pain in my big toes. Just got a pair of MBT’s and the pain in my knees and toes is gone due to the double rocker notion of the MBT’s. The new styles of MBT’s out there are pretty nice. I found some at Soul Comfort and if you order online the selection is pretty good for boots, shoes and summer shoes.

  23. Wendy Lewison

    I have hallux rigidus (right big toe), with severe arthritis and no cartilage left. I went to see Dr. Deland, the top foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC. He told me about a new joint-sparing procedure being done in France, and soon to be approved by the FDA. It’s a kind of “resurfacing” of the joint, done with carbon. I went to him expecting to make an appointment for fusion surgery, but now I am thinking I should hold off for another year until more is known about the results of this procedure–especially as fusion is irreversible. My Web research tells me that the resurfacing concept has been around for a while, but not this specific kind. Apparently there are various implants being used to cover the two ends of the bones to keep them from grinding together. To your knowledge, have any of these been successful, so far?

    • @Wendy Lewison – I saw Dr. Deland for the same issue in September and he mentioned the same trial in France. Unfortunately, I’ll need an interim procedure to remove a failed toe joint replacement so you’re one step ahead of me. Have you made any progress in your search for further information? Do you plan to go back to see Dr. Deland?

      • Wendy Lewison

        Patsy, I am currently managing okay since I bought Ecco sandals with reasonably rigid soles to get me through the summer months. I just bought Spring Step shoes (black, lace-up, oil and slip resistent very rigid soles) to get me through fall and winter everyday wear (jeans). So far so good, although the top leather is kind of stiff. I may order another pair, but 1/2 size larger (my usual size is 8W, but I’ll get 8 1/2W) because they seem a bit snug. I also bought Dansko “Arden” in black suede for dressier wear, with a rigid rubbery sole. These have a nice soft insert, so they are not like hard clogs, and the top leather is very soft on my toe. When will you have your procedure to remove the failed joint replacement? Will Dr. Deland do it? What will he put in instead?? I am hoping that in the next year or two he will have experience with and results for the new French joint-preserving procedure.

        Wendy

  24. i have found after years of wearing rocker bottom shoes that now I can not wear them anymore. I have hallux limitus in my left foot and hallux rigidus in my right foot. I have just bought some New Balance 928. They are not the prettiest shoe but wow, I put them on and they feel really good. I only wish they could make something like this that was good looking. I cannot wear flip flops even around the house. I have to put my orthotics in my slippers. I was diagnosed with this about seven years ago. I really do not want to get an operation. I am hoping these will suffice for a few years!!!!

  25. I posted above 2 years ago. I continue to wear MBTs exclusively for walking and have still managed to avoid surgery and do not experience pain – so I am living with it 4 years now. A good hiking boot for me is the Mens MBT RAFIKI GTX. Even though I’m a woman, these are uni-sex looking to me, very comfortable, waterproof and work well since I’m always out walking and hiking with my dog.

    I continue to look for other brands that are nicer looking though. For work, I wear MBTs to get there and then put on nicer regular shoes just to walk around the office in, and I’m OK for the most part since its minimal walking (from my cubicle to the printer, or the bathroom etc). But then must wear the MBTs to go out to lunch and of course when I go home. I was reading some posts and was looking at the Zambu shoes Marianne recommended. I assume she was using the stiffer sole styles. Marianne – can you report on which style you have used successfully? Also am wondering from Peggy what happened such that she could no longer wear double rocker soles – did the pain just slowly start to come or some other reason? Thanks.

  26. I have just gotten back and saw Karen’s comment/question. I do not know why the pain has come back from wearing rockers. The New Balance that I spoke about have begun to hurt also. I have since found a new podiatrist. He is reversing the morton’s extension on my orthotics and changing the heel on them too. I hope to be able to find something else to wear after he is done. Looking at my x-rays my feet have not gotten worse however I think that things just change in your feet after a while and now I am uncomfortable again. I just can not find something that doesn’t hurt underneath my big toe joint on both feet. It stinks because it really inhibits what I can wear! I just can not do much walking, now I am bike riding more.I have tried on alot of hiking shoes w/stiffer soles but they hurt also. I am just hoping that a new orthotic might help, stay tuned!!!!

  27. I just want to report that i have found a better shoe for my feet. It is the NB 1540. It has no hour glass sole, strictly straight and wide up and down and not flexible at all. I have been wearing them for about a week at the suggestion of a new podiatrist that I have found in Folsom, CA. I’m very pleased as I really think that the rocker bottom shoes I have worn over the past few years have changed my alignment. I feel much more secure in these shoes and I like wearing them!!! Such a change from wearing rockers which made me feel very wobbly and insecure!!!! I am awaiting a new orthotic which will have a reverse Morton extension on it. I only hope it fits well with these shoes!!!! (I tried the Addiction 10 but it wasn’t comfortable to me)

    • Like many others, I’m very glad to have stumbled upon this website! There are so many people who have hallux rigidus like me. Our options are so limited. My hobby is hiking (of all things). I’m a 57 year old female w HR for the past 10 years. Have had 2 cheilectomies over the past 18 years due to a badly broken ankle that changed my gait. A hemi was recommended by 2 podiatrists over the past 3 years. I’m putting that off as long as I can after reading many horror stories online.

      My most recent podiatrist who I started seeing 1 1/2 years ago made all the difference. He gave me a cortisone injection in my big toe at the painful joint, and it hurt for hours. I didn’t realize how stiff my big toe really was. He did not tell me the injection would be so painful (even after numbing the site first), and as he was injecting he was moving the joint around quite aggressively to spread the cortisone. Hurt like nothing else! But. . . it was worth it. It’s been 1 1/2 years since that injection! He also sent me to physical therapy to have that joint pulled & stretched, and I learned excercises that I do at home that have kept the joint somewhat flexible and relatively pain free! Unbelievable! I can hike 6 miles with almost no discomfort. I do wear orthotics (a MUST) but I only bought the $20 orthotics sold on TV (I bought mine at Bath & Body Works). They feel just as good as the custom orthotics my former podiatrist made for me 10 years ago. I wear loafer-style shoes to work with slacks (Clark’s has some good ones). I buy good quality, leather only shoes. I also have good, sturdy hiking boots and ALWAYS wear my orthotics. I’m hoping to avoid any type of surgery for as long as possible. Hopefully more and better options will become available for people with HR. It sucks but it’s not cancer or heart disease, so I try to be grateful for my excellent health otherwise.

      • I saw somewhere that someone mentioned the New Balance 1540 which I just picked up after returning the 847 and the newer 928 has a piece of leather(synthetic) material that hits right over the dorsal bunion but so far the 1540 feels pretty good-they should as they were the most expensive but will be worth every penney if they work-they do not have a lot of cushioning under the ball of the foot though-

      • Yes I mentioned the 1540. They are ok, I can’t walk too long in them. They do not have enough cushioning for me either but they are an improvement over the 928. I don’t think they are worth the price.

      • I have had numerous cortisone shots by my podiatrist. Feels ok for a while then it wears off. I also do stretching exercises. Everyone has different problems, some things work for some people and some for others. It sounds like you have found some good solutions. I am somewhat intrigued by the fact that you found orthotics at Bath and Body Works!! Maybe I will try them too, i feel that my 2nd podiatrist hasn’t really done enough tweaking my orthotics and I am tired of waiting to see him. I really do have some comfortable rocker bottom shoes from Finn that are very stable and very comfortable so far (knock on wood). But judging from my past experience shoes that feel good don’t last too long because something always changes with my feet. Thanks for the good ideas! This website is really a great place to learn and to hear that others are having as difficult time as me.

  28. What are good full length hiking boots for hallux limitus? I need the ankle support as well as limiting extension of the big toe.

  29. I am so glad to have stumbled on this thread. I’ve had Hallux Rigidus in both feet for about 11 years, and use a carbon fiber orthotic. I have a very hard time finding shoes in a size 5 or 5 1/2 with a removable foot bed. I need to take that out, put in the carbon fiber plate and then put the foot bed back on top of it. It works to eliminate pain, but finding shoes that don’t look orthopedic is very difficult. I’m always looking for new brands. My orthopedic surgeon has told me that eventually I will have to have the joints fused. Aravon (made by New Balance) sometimes works for me.

  30. I frequently look at this website. It makes me feel better knowing that I am not the only one with these foot problems! However, it is really frustrating as a women not to be able to wear a “normal” shoe!!! I wish that some company would make a shoe to accomodate Hallux Rigidus and Hallux Limitus. Bunions would be good too! It has been an ongoing struggle for 8 years for me and I assume that it will never end. My podiatrist seems to think I have a good five years before he has to fuse my joints.However I am always in some sort of pain regardless of the shoe or orthotics, it never really ends. I hate my feet!

    • I agree with you Peggy. I hate having this problem. It’s made a lot of things difficult for me. The orthotics do help with the pain because they keep my toes from bending. But the problem is that if you can’t bend your toes you can’t keep your shoes on, so I have to wear either tie shoes or Mary Janes. And recently the straps on Mary Janes seems to be bothering the bone on the top of my foot (it’s quite high). I have given up wearing dresses because I don’t like to wear “clunky” shoes with them. I literally spend hours online looking for shoes, ordering and returning. Because I wear a 5 or 5 1/2 there is no store in my large midwestern city that I can go to to buy shoes. They don’t carry such a small size. But I am happy to have found this site so I can see what other women are doing.

      • I guess I am not the only one spending hours online looking for shoes whenever I can! Zappos has been great that way but it gets ridiculous after a while because nothing really works. I wear a 10 wide and it is virtually impossible to find a comfortable shoe. I am wearing the new balance 1540’s now. They work somewhat but if I have to walk a long way things start to hurt. I have tried Keen’s, clogs, merrill, alegria and the list goes on and on. Luckily I do not have to go into an office anymore, if I did I don’t know what I would wear! I have quit my morning walks and now I ride my bike every day because that doesn’t hurt my feet.

  31. Yes it’s rather frustrating (I’m the Mike Dr. Sanders was referring to) My limitus doesn’t trutly start affecting me until a few miles into a hike. Those Montrail CTC shoes, yes I still have them, but they really don’t eliminate the rubbing of the bottom of the big toe. Best shoes are the MBT, but they’re not exactly hiking shoes……

    • Well my doctor says that MBT’s are not good for me because i have excess pronation and need a shoe with a lot of stability. I wore MBT’s for a while and they are good for that joint on the big toe not bending but they are not stable and they really did something to my gait. You are right it is very frustrating and an endless problem.

  32. Wow!! Thrilled to have stumbled upon this ongoing conversation. There is SO many good tips out there!! Here’s one for the women looking for nice-looking shoes ( but I warn u! It comes at a VERY high price). I have had hallux rigidus for 2 yrs now n I have discovered that Robert Clergerie shoes/boots r FABULOUS!! Most of their styles accommodate our problems. Again, very pricey. But I feel pretty and normal when I am “dressed”. Good luck

    • Thanks for the suggestion. You weren’t kidding about the price! It doesn’t looks as if they come in my size (5) anyway. It’s a terrible problem for a woman to have since it really limits the style of shoes one can wear.

    • Glad to find this website! Valerie – thanks for this suggestion. I am new to this whole great toe arthritis scene :-) if it can be called that and am happy to learn of a nice looking shoe possibility. Have been feeling very frustrated at the lack of options for business shoes. Am two months post bone spur surgery and have learned that have lost a lot of cartilege in my left big toe.

  33. I am back to my feet hurting very much. Can not find anything to wear that I can walk in. Has anyone tried Alegria shoes? I”ve been reading about them however I am sick and tired of getting shoes only to have to return them.

    • I continue to recommend MBTs as working for me. I heard the company went out of business, but there are likely still some available on the internet.

    • I know what you mean about returning shoes. I have to buy all of mine online and I return constantly. I did try Alegria but I found them to be a little too wide in the heel, so that meant my heel was slipping. So I returned the shoes. I did like the rocker sole though. I know someone who wears them and finds them comfortable, but she does not have hallux rigidus. they are probably worth trying.

    • I just started wearing a Alegria-I have worn Aetrex rockers(stable but sometimes they make my knees hurt) I got the fisherman style sandal as I wanted the ‘hole’ near my dorsal bunion open(kind of works but not great) but the wide forefoot is great and it is a really nice rocker-has a closed back also. Not worn them much so not really sure yet!

  34. My wife had a Cheilectomy to remove bone spurring from her right big toe first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint and the surgeon also did an Interpositional Arthroplasty procedure….she had no cartilage remaining in her right big toe first MTP joint. The operation was done on December 11th and she is progressing well but her surgeon said running would not be possible for her after her recovery…my wife did Mini-Triathlons for years. :(

    We know there are companies that make prosthetics for amputees so they can run and compete in 5K and 10K races. The devices are usually made of light weight strong metal and carbon fiber. My question is; are there any prosthetic manufacturing companies anyone could recommend that make such devices for people who have had surgery for Hallux Rigidus? We are hoping to find a device that my wife could use that would allow her to run again without doing any further damage to her MTP? Also, we are already aware of carbon fiber inserts and stiff sole shoes.

    Thanks, Joe & Briana, Asheville NC

  35. I’m ecstatic to have stumbled across this website! Shoe shopping has become so frustrating and embarrassing as I continue my desperate search for a comfortable pair of sneakers in addition to a dressy shoe. My left foot, plagued with both halux limitus and a recently developed case of bursitis in the toe pad is uncooperative! For the moment, I’ve settled on a pair of unattractive Merrell fleece lined clogs.
    Has anyone had any good results from taking Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM?

    • I asked my orthopedist about taking that. He said he didn’t think it would help my MTP joint, but to give it a try as it couldn’t hurt. I did take it and it didn’t help. However, I suddenly realized my knees felt a lot better. So I’ve now been taking it for years — has done nothing for my toe joint but certainly helped my knees. Guess this is a case of good news and bad news.

      • Pam, I just purchased a bottle of Glucosamine Chondroitin triple strength with MSM. If it doesn’t work for my toe, perhaps it will help my knees! What strength do you take?

    • Michele, I bought some of the clog-style shoes made by Crocs. They are fake-fur lined and I wear them around the house instead of house slippers. Very sturdy and comfortable and they are also cute. I took the glucosamine for a few years and did not see any change in the toe joint at all. I left a post earlier today– I see alot of discussion about shoes, but has anybody asked their podiatrist for a recommendation to a physical therapist to try to help the joint rather than just looking for good shoes? I got a 2nd opinion from another podiatrist 1 1/2 years ago, and after discussing a hemi joint transplant, which I was against, he gave me a very painfull cortisone shot following by physical therapy for 5 weeks. That was the magic bullet as I learned how to stretch and pull (gently) on the toe to enlongate that joint. I also use a belt to pull & gently stretch the joint, and move that joint around in a circular pattern to keep it limbered up. I’ve had hallux rigidus for more than 10 years and 2 cheilectomy surgeries on my big toe along with twice annually cortisone shots, so I know all about the problems people are talking about here, and I totally sympathize. I wear orthotics daily and stiff soled shoes. My toe hardly ever has any discomfort. I walk an average of 10 miles a week (4-6 of that is on Saturdays with my hiking group). Finding that 2nd podiatrist was a blessing to me. His name is Dr. Don Ansert in New Albany, IN & he also has an office in Louisville.

      • Linda, I asked my podiatrist about physical therapy, but he didn’t seem too enthusiastic. Perhaps it’s because I’m only at stage 2 halux limitus. I do know, however, that when my toe becomes painful after walking, massaging the joint helps. I walk a lot too, easily 15 miles a week in addition to taking several dance classes every week.

    • I too am grateful for the company. I have had hallux rigidus for 20 years in my right foot and about 15 years in my left. I had two surgeries (chelectomy) but it only works for a short time. I really would like to hear from people who have had an implant or this new French procedure. I will be 60 soon and I am going to have to do something. How have people who have had implants done over the long run?
      I have tried every shoe in the universe. I am pretty much limited to MBT or Dansko shoes. But I continue to look because when they break down and start to break I need to get a new pair.

      • Sherry, what new French procedure are you speaking of? I’ve have 2 podiatrists tell me I need the partial joint replacement (hemi) on my big toe. Did lots of reading and research online and there are lots of horror stories–I am not willing to risk a failed procedure. The hemi is not covered under most insurances, although that was not the determining factor in my decision not to have it. I’m 59 and my toe is getting worse (have developed a large bunion and the toe is slanting inwards now toward the second toe). Have had 2 cheilectomies over the years. I’m going to live with it until it’s too painful, then my plan is to go with the joint fusion.

  36. I have found shoe, yes a shoe, not a tennis shoe that has been unbelievably comfortable for me. They are rather pricey, however after six years of trying to find something to wear that doesn’t look like an old lady or a special shoe I’ve decided to pay the price. Finn Comforts. They are a “rocker sole” but a stable rocker sole with no hour glassing in it. They do not look like the rocker sole of MBT’s or Skechers. They look like normal shoes and there are some nice styles. Brenda check them out. I do admit the price is ridiculous but I am so sick of trying to find something and with these I have no pain. I hope they continue to be comfortable and that this helps someone! They sell them on Zappos however to really see all the styles that are available you should go to finncomfort.com. I didn’t buy mine at Zappos I went local in Sacramento where they were on sale because of the time of year.

    • Thanks for suggesting Finn Comforts. I’ll check that brand.

    • I agree with you about ridiculous shoe prices, but being willing to pay whatever it takes to get the right shoe. Unfortunately, Finn Comfort didn’t quite do it for me. I think the sole was too rigid for my foot. I don’t have orthotics (my orthopedist doesn’t believe that they would help me). I need to find a stiff sole that is very cushioned. Occasionally I run across such a shoe. I’ve found some Naots (the more expensive ones), some Keen sandals (the heavier ones), some ABEO (from the Walking Company — especially good with their metatarsal insert), and for everyday walking around, Brooks Addiction Walker. Recently I bought some Born Concept that appear to be working. (I seldom know right away, unless a shoe is immediately bad for my foot – it usually takes several weeks to find out if a shoe really works.) I’m thinking the Born brand itself might work, too, since the Born Concept is a lower priced version of it. For me, it’s very much trial and error. I like to shop at DSW, because they have a huge variety that includes some good brands, and you can try them out at one go. I like Zappo’s too, but the mailing back and forth gets tiresom.

  37. I just stumbled across this thread but glad I did. I’m 48 and live in the UK. I have Hallux Rigidus in my right toe joint. I’ve had it for about 7 years. I have tried MBT’s and they are very good – the rocker sole keeps my joint completely still – Bliss. But they do take some getting used to. Something which I have recently tried and found comfortable are cycling shoes. The stiff sole again keeps the joint fairly still and this combined with my orthotics works well. There is quite a bit of choice out there on cycle shoe websites if you look under mountain-biking /commuting. Some shoes look like ordinary trainers but come with a rigid sole. Hope this may be of some help.

  38. I so appreciate hearing others say how frustrating it is to try to find shoes for hallux limitus. I work in a conservative office and need to wear heels…but I can’t find a decent alternative that doesn’t cause foot pain or look like my grandmother’s orthopedic shoes. If I was a shoe designer, I know I could make a fortune coming up with an elegant alternative —rigid sole, quality leathers, conservative cut, nice colors. Why is this so hard??

    My mailman thinks I’m Imelda Marcos. He sees the Zappos/Amazon/Online/6PM boxes come into the house and never realizes they ALL go back. I am beyond sick of ordering and returning shoes.

    For the record, the closest “dress” shoe I’ve found that doesn’t cause extreme joint pain is the Tsubo Asmik. It’s a little space-age looking and I don’t like it with suits…but I can’t find an alternative. I wear Danskos, Naots (too flexible, really), Kork-Ease, and Haflinger cork slippers in the house…and my feet are still killing me.

  39. The first thing my orthopedist said to me was I couldn’t wear heels any more. There are some decent looking flat shoes that you should be able to wear in a conservative office. Don’t wear heels if they hurt your feet! They put a lot of pressure on the MTP joint, and that can worsen your condition. There are laws about employers having to accommodate a disability. If you have this condition, you have a disability. Go to your HR person if you have any doubts, and bring a note from your doctor. You should be allowed to wear shoes that stabilize your feet and help you to be pain-free. Don’t risk your ability to walk because your office “expects” you to wear heels!

  40. Hi Elizabeth,
    I’m sure the UPS guy wonders what I do with all the shoes that he delivers to my door, but like you, I send most of them back. This is a terrible problem for a woman to have. Have you tried Aravon shoes? They have a couple of styles that might work for you. It’s almost impossible for me to wear heels .Although I would still like to. I use a carbon fiber orthotic that is flat and keeps my toes from bending, so I am pretty much limited to tie shoes or Mary Janes. Aetrex might also have some that could work. Good luck, and if you find a brand that works let us know.

    • Where do you get a carbon fiber orthotic-is that the one for hallux limitus? Can you just use in one shoe-as I have no pain in foot that had cheilectomy but other has the dorsal bunion? Does it have a good arch?

      • I had to get a prescription from an orthopedic surgeon for the carbon fiber orthotic. It covers the entire length of the shoe and keeps my big toes from bending. It doesn’t offer any arch support. It is flat. I take out the foot bed, put this in, and then put the foot bed back in on top of it. So I need my shoes to be a little deeper than normal. I’ve used them for about 12 years. I would have a lot of pain without them.But it makes finding shoes really difficult. Before getting them I had gone to a podiatrist who had orthotics made for my feet. But they did not go underneath my toe and really didn’t help me. I’m sure you could use it on just one foot. But you probably need to talk to the person who did your cheilectomy to see what they think.

  41. Hello-has anyone tried the new Dansko ‘Elise’ that kind of looks like it might work for walking instead of like a New Balance? I really don’t like the way Dansko slides up and down on the heel though I know they are supposed to do that! Also most are so heavy-thanks-

    • I haven’t tried the Elise, but I can actually walk pretty good in the regular Dansko Professional clogs. They are the only “normal” shoes I have. Other than that one pair, the rest of the shoes in my closet are MBTs. Wish there were more double rocker soles out there. The single rocker doesn’t seem to be enough. But he clogs are so stiff, I’m able to walk by stiffening my toes a bit when I take a step.

      • Hi Karen,
        I’ve been wearing the newer Dansko Professional XP clogs for the past three weeks and am happy to report that my halux limitus toe is feeling pretty good. Because the shoes are so stiff, I began wearing them for only an hour or two during the first few days and gradually worked up to an entire day. In general, however, I’ve noticed that my halux limitus toe does better when I change shoes several times a day. I walk to work and back in one pair, leave a few different pairs at work and wear still another pair in the evening.

  42. Is there actually a exercise/walking type athletic shoe that works? The New Balance 1540 is not working as it presses on my dorsal bunion-I have used Aetrex rockers but they actually make my back hurt and I am desperate to find something I can just take maybe a one mile walk in-thanks!

    • Personally I get on very well with Nike frees. I have hr in both feet but I think the flexibility of this shoe allows other muscles and joints to compensate for lack of movement in big toes. As a consequence my feet are getting stronger.

      • I would not recommend Nike Free to any patient’s with hallux rigidus http://drshoereviews.com/2011/11/30/hallux-limitus-and-hallux-rigidus-or-turf-toe/. Since the pain in this condition usually arises with flexion of the great toe (bone-on-bone, no cartilage). A flexible forefoot sole almost always accelerates joint breakdown and pain. If however, you have hallux limitus or rather a joint restriction based on pronation without the arthritic changes identified in hallux rigidus, you may be all right.

      • I can hardly fathom having h rigidus and wearing a flexible shoe! Gosh how do you do that?!? I can’t afford to buy expensive shoes of any kind, but use Amazon.com to find user ratings on walking/hiking shoes & boots and purchase from them, always buying shoes with hard/firm soles. I tend to go with the Nike brand, and NEVER walk without my orthotics. I hike every Saturday 5-6 miles with my hiking club. I have no problems or pain walking up and down steep hills with shoes (or boots when muddy as long as the soles are very stiff and I have my orthotics. I have been wearing the Walk Fit brad of orthotics for several years and can tell NO DIFFERENCE between these and the custom pair my podiatrist made a few years back for a couple hundred dollars. My doctor has recommended a hemi implant for me because my toe joint is in bad shape, but as long as I can maintain my walking with little to no discomfort, I’m putting it off. I’ve read horror stories online of people who have gone through this procedure.

  43. Besides the NB 1540, there are two other motion control sneakers designed specifically for walking, the NB 928 and the Brooks Addiction Walker. The latter is a very comfortable shoe, but, unfortunately, not for the chemically sensitive like myself. By the way, I was told not to use any of the above for aerobics classes.

  44. I’m thinking of trying the Dansko professional shoe. But I don’t know if I can go without my orthotic. Has anyone worn these successfully ?

    • I tried them without my orthotics and they hurt my feet. Good luck, maybe you will have success. I don’t know how anyone with this problem can wear shoes without orthotics but apparently some can. Dansko does makes a clog that is orthotic friendly. I am one of those people who can not wear clogs successfully. I wish I could because I like the way they look but I just can not walk in them.

    • I’ve been wearing Danskos at work without my orthotics (have hallux limitus in large right toe) and they work pretty well for me. I don’t walk long distances in them, but I stand at my desk all day so they’ve been good for that and short walks around the office.

      • Me too – I’m able to wear Dansko clogs even without orthotics. I have it in both toes.

      • Whether or not you can go without orthotics depends on how well the clogs match your foot type. If the arch of the clogs are a perfect match to your arch and — if your foot doesn’t slide forward too much (heel slippage), then you should be fine. Conversely, If you have a narrow foot then Dansko probably won’t work for you. The nice thing about Dansko clogs is the inflexible sole, which can effectively support hallux limitus/rigidus, even without an orthotic, providing the fit is right.

      • I need to ask silly question but don’t all the Danskos have heel slippage-I mean aren’t they designed that way? The newest shoe I think called the Elise that looks almost like you would take dog for walk in them!-does that have the heel looseness also? I find with most New Balance I have to do the special lacing to really pull the heel to prevent slippage and thus blisters so maybe the Dansko would be better-hence, no rubbing,no blisters?Thanks

      • Yes, all Dansko clogs slip some, but you should not be sliding forward. The Dansko Elise model laces and should not cause slippage. If you need to modify your lacing and you still experience slippage then the shoe is too deep and/or wide for you. http://drshoereviews.com/2007/12/27/heel-slippage-foot-width-foot-depth/

      • Thanks DRSHOE and everyone else for your responses. It sounds as if it would be worth it to try the Dansko professional clog. Again, I am so glad I found this site so I can communicate with others who have hallux rigidus. It’s been a real challenge for me to find shoes all these years.

      • Brenda, I’ve found that the Dansko Pro XP works better for my Hallux Limitus toe. I wear them without orthotics, but I do slip in Dr. Scholls cushioned insoles.

      • Thanks Michele. I wasn’t sure which of those to try. Is there a reason you prefer the Pro XP?

      • Although the Pro XPs are more expensive than the professional clogs, they are well worth the price in terms of comfort since they have a removable insert made from memory foam. Also, they are slip resistant. I usually wear a size 8 shoe and the size 39 Pro XPs have worked well for me as they hit my arches in the right place.

      • I’ve read that the XPs have a softer foot bed and are a bit more flexible overall than the regular professional and I am a little concerned about that since I have always done better with a shoe that is a little stiffer..

      • Brenda, I tried on both the regular professional and the xps for at least 20 minutes at the shoe store and noticed no difference in the stiffness of the shoes. The fact that the foot bed was removable and a tiny bit more comfortable in the xps appealed to me. Because my xps are so stiff, I had to work up to wearing them for a whole day. I suggest you order both from zappos and make the comparison yourself.
        By the way, do you wear regular orthotics or ones that have a toe extension specifically designed for halux limitus?
        Also, do you have any sneaker recommendations?

      • Michele, My orthotic is made of carbon fiber, and it’s flat and is the full length of my foot. It keeps my toes from bending when I walk.
        For years I wore various New Balance running shoes, but about 3 years ago I found they were no longer comfortable. They didn’t have enough cushioning. I stumbled on a pair of Easy Spirit anti-gravity running shoes that were very very comfortable, and last year I wanted to buy a new pair, and you guessed it, they didn’t make that one any more. No other Easy Spirit shoes fit the same way. So I am looking once again. I am going to try Brooks. I have heard they may be good for people with HR.

      • Thanks, Brenda. The Brooks Addiction Walkers are very comfortable, however, they have an awful chemical smell. They went back to Zappos the same day I received them!

      • Brenda; Is your carbon fiber orthotic made by a podiatrist or is it something you bought on your own? I have been reading about them, just wondering if it is something I should look into. I have orthotics by my podiatrist however the front is flimsy and I really do not understand why he made them that way.

      • Peggy, I had to get a prescription for the orthotic. It was not made just for my foot. I take out the foot bed in a shoe, put in my orthotic, and then put the foot bed back on top of it. So the shoe needs to be deep enough to accommodate that, although the orthotic is very thin. It definitely keeps my toes from bending, and so minimizes pain. You might be able to find them online. I haven’t really looked.

      • Brenda; Does this orthotic minimize all the pain or does it still depend on what shoe you are wearing. I gather from your postings that you still can get some pain sometimes???

      • Peggy, I have no pain when I wear the orthotic. Occasionally I try to wear a shoe that doesn’t accomodate it, and that just doesn’t work. I have pain then. Having said that, I do have a pair of Aravon sandals and a pair of Dansko sandals that have rocker bottoms and I can wear those for awhile, paricularly if I am not walking a lot. But 99% of the time I use the orthotic.

      • oh. I also have bone spurs on both big toe joints that get in the way of everything. If I have orthotics that are too thick underneath those joints they rub the shoe and then i have more pain. Do you have anything like that?The othotic doesn’t really have to be too thick for the spurs to rub. This is just another one of my foot problems that inhibits my shoe buying, makes it very difficult. My podiatrist said that these spurs will keep getting bigger over time. I really hate my feet!!!! I seem to be able to wear the finnamic shoes from Finn that are a very gradual stable rocker bottom with out pain so far but it seems that every five or six months everything changes and I go back to looking for another shoe type.

      • I have never been told that I have bone spurs. Sometimes those joints are a little swollen. The carbon fiber orthotic is very thin maybe a couple of mm. It’s an endless hunt for the right shoe for most of us I guess.

      • Since I ALWAYS wear my orthotics, I always buy shoes with a wider toe box (sounds like an old lady’s shoes but you can find some cute ones) and be sure there is no shoe seam over the toe joint. I work in an office and have 2 pair of Clark’s shoes (they resemble loafers). They are extremely comfortable, and have a toe box spacious enough that I can wear my orthotics comfortably. I have a black pair and a brown pair and wear them almost every day. They have a 1 1/2″ heel so they look pretty nice. I also like cold weather because I can wear boots with 1″ heels that look good (and of course the orthotics fit inside). I’ve had enough years of toe pain but over the past 1 1/2 years I have found the combination of a great podiatrist and the right type of shoes. I hike 4-6 miles every Saturday with friends through woods and up & down hills, and walk on my treadmill through the week. It’s definitely a manageable situation.

      • Peggy, I can’t afford to spend alot of money on shoes (I’ll go up to around $100 and that’s it). I have had bone spurs removed twice from my right big toe & currently have hallux rigidus. I ALWAYS wear the Walk Fit orthotics you can buy right off the shelf at many stores. I normally wear Nike walking shoes because I hike alot, and wear Red Head hiking boots in the mud & winter. I buy the stiffest soles I can find and always wear my orthotics. About 1 1/2 years ago I changed podiatrists because I wasn’t happy with the one I had. It made all the difference–he gave me a cortisone shot in that super stiff joint which was quite painful and hurt for hours afterwards because he moved the toe around as the cortisone was going in. It loosened the joint up immensely. That’s been a whole 1 1/2 years ago. Then he recommended physical therapy for me, they recommended I pull & stretch on the big toe (preferably someone in the household can do that for you, but I live alone so I have no option on this). I move that toe joint around and around in a circular motion, and pull on the toe with a belt while sitting on the floor. My toe is quite comfortable almost 100% of the time.

        My prior podiatrist I was with first (the one I left) treated my toe with TLC–he never recommended excercising the joint to keep it loosened up, but treated it tenderly and gently. Little did I know I needed to work that joint to keep it limber (to the best extent possible).

        At some point I’m going to have to have the joint replaced with a hemi procedure, but it could be years away the way things are going. I wish you luck with your condition. I know what it feels like and it can be very frustrating and very painful.

  45. Excellent site!! Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Having hallux rigidus is extremely frustrating, I fee like an old maid! I am glad to have found you all.

  46. For orthotics, check out toe turf plates on myfootshop.com

  47. Excellent site! I’ve had hallux rigidus with bone spurs in both feet for over a decade. I just returned from my podiatrist who took new xrays and I could not get over the damage and extent of the bone spurs! No wonder just touching the joint sends me to the ceiling! I’ve sworn by the Dansko/Sanitas for years, have had to even put them on right out of bed. I will say that with bone spurs you must be sure the leather upper is somewhat flexible, I made the mistake of buying a ‘tooled’ pair of dansko’s and they are too stiff which can leave my feet feeling bruised. I’m a nurse and live in my Danskos all day long with little to no pain – highly recommend them. Use Eastern Mountain Sports tempo GTX hikers and have a pair of Onex sandals that have very soft leather straps which I can wear out to dinner (limited walking but look good with no pain)

    • Do you wear your Dansko’s with or without your orthotics?

      • Hi, I wear my Dansko’s without my orthotics. I use orthotics in my sneakers but limit my cardio workouts to elliptical and treadmill with no incline so to not aggravate the problem

  48. also which Dansko’s did you buy that were not “tooled”

  49. I just ordered the toe turf plates on myfootshop.com that Michele mentions above. I will report back as I have my fingers crossed.

    • Yes please do!!!!

    • Have received the toe turf plates and wore them a tiny bit around the house yesterday. At first blush they were effective in eliminating my ball of foot pain in both feet by limiting the range of motion. So far I havent had the issue with the arches being too prominant which SOME commenters on the myfootshop.com and Amazon sites mentioned. Apparently if you have that issue you can alter the arches with a hot hairdryer (customer service will assist if you call). Anyway, I am hoping that these work in the long run – so often a solution looks good but then doesn’t work. I am sure you can all identify. I have developed the use of the phrase “cautiously optimistic” for this phase. Hoping that other issues doen’t develop as sometimes happens. Anyway, just wanted to give an initial report and will give another report once I have worn them more including walking around outside. Fingers crossed! Glad to have discovered this group of kindred spirits although sorry that you are all suffering from this issue.

      • Here’s hoping they work for you! Did you put them under the regular insoles that come with shoes(versus orthotics) and can you put just in one shoe-actually what kind of shoe are you putting them in and shouldn’t they work in athletic,dress shoes etc?I have had a cheilectomy on one foot and really don’t need more than a otc orthotic(use Aetrex ones)on that foot but other foot has that huge dorsal bunion and hurts so could I use in just that shoe but would that make walking odd,feel funny etc.? Thanks and good luck with them!

      • I’ve had 2 cheilectomies & was told over a year ago by my podiatrist that I needed a hemi procedure, which I am 99% against having. I’ve been managing my hallux rigidus quite well. Anyway, I use the Walk Fit orthotics that you can buy off the shelf for around $20-$25 a pair. They feel as good as, if not better, than the custom made ones I’ve had for a few years. Plus, they come with 3 different heights of arch supports that you snap in to the orthotic. They’ve worked extremely well for me without costing an arm and a leg. I hike every weekend and walk 2-3 times per week and they are extremely comfortable.

  50. Hi! I put them in my running shoes (not that I am able to run) in place of the inserts that came with the shoes. I think it would be way too much to have both in the shoe. I am not sure how they will fit in dress shoes as I haven’t tried that. May be ok depending on the shoe. I think you could use only one of them on your problem foot but I guess you’d have to try that to make sure it didn’t cause some unforseen problem. Think it would be worth a try though. I am also trying a Dr. Scholl’s over the counter foot pad for a little softness since the insert is hard. So far it’s helping the arthritis in my big toes but I am still breaking them in. All in all I have more luck with these inserts than I’ve had with anything in the last 2 years. Will continue to report back. :-)

  51. I had a Cheilectomy to remove bone spurring from my right big toe first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint and the surgeon also did an Interpositional Arthroplasty procedure….I had no cartilage remaining in my right big toe first MTP joint. The operation was done on December 11th and I am progressing well but my surgeon said running would not be possible for me after my recovery…I did Mini-Triathlons for years. :( Anyway, I’m 90+ days after surgery now and can walk/hike comfortably for 2 to 2.5 miles with some nice stiff Timberland hiking boots I bought a few weeks ago. My question is, has anyone ever used a shoe called Hoka?….http://www.hokaoneone.com/en/technology.html I’d love to know what people think of them and if they helped with conditions associated with Hallux Rigidus surgery recovery. I tried them on at the store and they we so, so comfortable…although they are rather ugly. They have a very thick sole and are very stiff. I would love to hear about other people’s experience with them. Thanks.

    • I have several runners (trail, marathon and ultra) who run in Hoka One One and do extremely well. Although I haven’t prescribed specifically for hallux limitus, I have successfully treated sesamoiditis and metatarsalgia with Hoka One One styles. They take some getting used to, and one runner stated they feel like “running on a memory foam mattress” but once he relaxed into them, he loved them. They are expensive ($170) and you will need to routinely evaluate wear for asymmetry, but they are well designed and a refreshing change from minimalist styles.

      • Can you find them in the US?

      • Yes, Zappos.com. I always have patients buy them here, in case they don’t fit and need to be returned (free shipping).

      • Thank you, Dr. Shoe! I have hallux limitus and so far the only shoe brands that have worked for me are MBT and Dansko. Always looking for more options. Thank you for this blog!

      • They are worth a try. I was really hoping they would work for me. They were great for my h. limitus toe, but they made my back hurt. I think more people should try them because, if they don’t cause other issues, they will make your toes feel great. I find that the difficulty has become finding shoes that provide toe relief without causing other alignment issues.

  52. I’m amazed that people say they can wear flats. My toe, which has been inflexible for about 20 years and has recently gotten worse, won’t tolerate the curved throat. The shoe must come above the toe joint or I am in pain. I find that Ecco Bioms work pretty well for me. And, no, I haven’t worn heel in 20 years because of this problem, nor do i wear dresses because I don’t like the way clunky shoes look with them. I had the surgery on my foot in 1992. It took months for me to be able to wear “regular” shoes because the shape of my foot changed. eventually, the spurs in the joint came back. I’m not sure that I’m willing to go through the pain, again, to fix it.

  53. Lois – I have the same problem with wearing flats that you do. How I wish I could wear them so I’d feel better wearing skirts and dresses. Alas it seems it’s not to be.

    I wanted to report back to everyone on the toe turf plates and my progress with them so far. I have been very pleased with them and they continue to feel more and more comfortable as I get acclimated to them. I don’t think I’ll be able to fit them into anything resembling a dress shoe unfortunately but I have great hopes for the future that I will be able to work back up to taking my nice daily long walks again!!!

  54. Although I feel so bad for all of us who are in pain because of dealing with Hallux Rigidus-I too am thankful to have found this site. I had my surgery nearly 4 months ago & am still in tremendous pain when flexing my big toe in an attempt to walk pain free. 2 weeks ago tomorrow my podiatrist fitted me for orthotics & am awaiting a call that they are in. I have been going to physical therapy for 2 months 3 times a week with absolutely no improvement. My question to any of you is this – the Physical Therapist had a sales rep from Dyna Splint talk to me at my last appointment – has anyone tried this? I am very skeptical & plan to ask my doctor about it when I see him to pick up the orthotics, but wondered if anyone had used this system for “stretching” as the rep put it. Thank You so much for any imput. I am so very frustrated regarding the pain I am in.

    • Dynasplint is a passive range of motion device that helps to move an otherwise restricted joint. It is generally prescribed after hallux rigidus surgery to improve joint motion. I would say if your physical therapist is recommending Dynasplint, it is probably worth getting. It is helpful in many cases, and my office does prescribe it when indicated.

      • Valerie Mirwis

        Since stumbling upon this website (literally and figuratively) my life has improved dramatically. Having a forum where I can read comments from my fellow sufferers has enabled me to feel more empowered. Thnk u to all. Some of the tips, advise, ideas I try some I read up further on and some I reject; all, though, giving me a sense of power to a situation that I thought was hopeless.
        I have received numerous AMAZING tips!!
        I MUST comment on the latest one that has helped me: the Hoka one one (pronounced “oh-nay oh-nay”. It has allowed me a lot more opportunities as it relates to exercise.
        Thnk u!!

  55. I have custom 3/4 orthodics for hallux limitus, but have been unable to find shoes that work well with them. I recently went to REI with my husband and asked about shoes for myself. Salesperson suggested Keen Toyah and a Superfeet merinoGREY insole. The Superfeet insole seems to fit my foot better than the pricey custom orthodics. Now I’m very confused, did I waste $$$ on the orthodics? Has anyone had a similiar experience.

    • Custom orthotics should always be better than non-custom when prescribed by a podiatrist. If you’re having trouble fitting your orthotics into shoes, then you should return to the prescribing physician and have him/her make shoe recommendations or adjustments so that they work with your shoes.

    • I just have a comment about the 3/4 orthotics. The first doctor I went to made a pair for me from a mold of my foot. I think the cost was around $350 ( that was about 12 years ago and I don’t remember exactly) I was told I could put them in any of my shoes. As it turned out they did not help me. I still had pain with every step I took. So I went to someone else who prescribed the full carbon fiber insert which keeps my toes from bending and that has relieved the pain when I walk.

    • I agree with Dr. Sanders. As someone who has worn custom orthodics for 20 years, I agree that a custom orthodic SHOULD fit better than any OTC one. However, not all of them do. Many need adjustments after-the-fact and some occasionally need to be entirely recast before they can work as well as they are supposed to. Also, not all podiatrists have equal amounts of lab experience or skill crafting orthodics. Of all the orthodics I’ve had, none have fit me better than the ones Jenny Sanders made for me.

  56. Does anyone here wear an orthotic with the HOKA shoes? If so, how was the fit? Did you need to go up in size? Thank you!

  57. I wanted to report back again regarding the carbonite toe turf plates that I have been trying in my running shoes to relieve pain in my big toe joints due to arthritis. They are helping more and more every day. I have been able to take nice walks for the first time in over a year and am very happy and hoping that this is a good long term solution for me. Its been 3 weeks at this point and am so glad not to have to turn down activities because of pain in my feet. I was strating to feel like a very old lady!

    • Great news! Please continue to report back your progress.

    • Glad to hear it Sara. I hope this will turn out to be a good solution for you.
      I’m curious, has anyone out there worn the Nike pegasus or vomero athletic shoe? I was told that each had a pretty flexible sole and I think that is exactly what I don’t want for hallux rigidus.

  58. I had some carbonite orthotics made for me by my podiatrist. The top of them have some padding, very slight — two layers of padding. I have been wearing them also like you Sara — in my New Balance 1540’s which now come in Black for women. I can walk all over also. It is very nice. They do not fit in all my shoes either, unfortunately–I wish they did.

  59. Has anyone worn Alegria shoes, and if so, have they been comfortable?
    They seem loose in the heel to me and I don’t know if they are supposed to fit that way ( like Danskos) or if it’s due to my narrow heel.

    • I have tried Alegria shoes and clogs at the store and from Zappos. Without my orthotics my foot slides forward and it hurts my toe joint. With my orthotics they are too tight and they push on the bump on top of my toe. I returned them. However I really had to find some kind of dressy sandal last summer and was desperate. I ordered the Alegria Kleo from Zappos. I could wear them about four blocks while really trying to keep my toes straight while I walked. Sounds crazy but i needed something. I still have them as I wore them and could not return them. I wore them without my orthotics because with my orthotics it was really weird. I think Alegria are really cute shoes and I wish I could wear them but somehow the fit is really kind of strange. You should try them from Zappos maybe they will be better for you.

    • I wore Aetrex rocker bottom(stable)for walking-they were okay and I have Alegria with the closed back and I really like the inner sole-I do not have to put my orthotics in them and the rocker bottom is rather mild so very comfortable with a rigid sole! They have really different patterns etc. but if you get the clog make sure you get the strap that goes around back for I tried an Eastland rocker bottom clog and I found it forces you to use the toes more to grip(like Dr. suggests here on this site) They are not snug in the heel so again takes time to get used to.Maureen-

    • I’ve had no luck with Alegria. They run very wide and my foot comes completely out of the shoes. I can’t see how they are supposed to fit that way. The Dansko XP Pro, on the other hand, has worked out very well for me. The foot is supposed to come out of the heel while the big toe remains rigidly supported by the stiffness of leather. I also love how my high arches are cradled in the shoe.
      By the way, I’m pleased to report that after a two month search for a comfortable running shoe, I’ve finally found one that works, the Asics GT2000.

  60. I ordered the Alegria Kyra from Zappos and it’s going back. I found it to be pretty wide and wearing socks helped with that, but the toe box wasn’t quite high enough and was very very stiff. I think this brand won’t work for me.
    I also bought a pair of Asics 2160, and I think the toe box wasn’t too bad in them, but they really rubbed on my heels below the ankle bone, and I found out they are a model that is good for people who pronate. And since I don’t pronate they too are going back. Then I ordered the Drew Rose which got very good reviews online. They fit kind of funny. I think they are a bit short in my usual size. They are not too wide and yet they stand off my foot. So I suspect I will return those also. And the search goes on.
    I think I need a shoe with a pretty stiff sole, but soft leather on the top so I can move my toes and so that I don’t have a hard surface rubbing on the hallux joint. And that is difficult to find.

    • Did you ever try the new balance 1540? I don’t remember what you said about it or if you tried it. they don’t rub my joint because they are mesh on top. Maybe you tried them, at this point I don’t remember who tried what!!! But it is good to hear that someone else is sending back all their shoes like I do!!! Not to make fun of it but it is such a pain the neck all of this you gotta laugh at some point even though it stinks!

  61. I also stumbled on this site and am happy to do so as a fellow HR sufferer of over 10 yrs (and sometimes you get it when you’re young). I’m now 38. I’m specifically looking for a sandal. It’s spring and before I was able to get by in the summer w/my birks alternating w/shoes w/orthotics, but now my joint can’t handle the birks. Any advice? Also, how long have you guys kept your orthotics before getting new one? I’ve had mine for almost 6 yrs. and was thinking about getting a new set before I discovered my insurance wouldn’t cover them. Has anyone had success getting a secondary insurance to pay for them? Thanks for all the tips I’ve already read and thanks in advance for any help you can give me! I’ve bookmarked this blog :)

    • I just bought some Dansko and Finn Comfort sandals. Cost a fortune but they feel good. I have HR.

    • Hi Kristen, Aetrex makes sandals with a removable foot bed, so does Aravon, Kumfs, Naot, and I think there may be others. I don’t know what type of orthotic you use, but if you can take out the foot bed and put in your orthotic these might work for you. Good luck

  62. I forgot to mention that I have a narrow foot, so not everything works for me. Also meant to comment that once I heard that Naot made special sandals w/orthotics in them! I didn’t see anything on their website, but thought about calling and asking. I know they’d be crazy expensive, but for one sandal that would feel good and last a long time, I think it’d be worth it. Has anyone tried them or heard anything about them? Thanks!

  63. I am new to the site and relieved that i am not alone, although sorry we all are suffering. Curious about the menfolk… is this condition mainly a woman’s problem? I appreciate all the leads to search for footwear that will help my HR. I am sad to have to think about ditching all my shoes, geez and it’s not like any of them were super fabulous high heels. Alas years of reasonably sensible shoes didn’t help stave off this stupid condition.
    I am two weeks into PT. Nervous about considering a cortisone shot as it sounds very painful.
    Thank you all for the posts.
    Susie

    • Based on clinical experience, I can assure you, men also suffer with this condition. Fortunately, the male patients I treat seek treatment sooner and seem more than happy to stay with one or two pair of shoes for years. Also, men’s shoes in general are much better designed than women’s (wide waist, firm outsole/midsole, laced etc.) and the styles don’t change as often.

  64. I have re-read the comments on the Dansko XP Pros. I am ordering them from Zappos and I am going to try them with and without orthotics. I do have many different pairs of orthotics so I am hoping that something works. At least I can wear them around the house and return them if I need to but hopefully they will work!!! I tried them on in a store last week but I feel that it is easier to order from Zappos, in case they don’t work!!! Wish me luck! I didn’t think I would ever be able to wear them but for some reason they felt pretty good in the store.

  65. My husband has terrible foot pain and it is relieved by wearing MBTs. Does anyone know of a good steel or composite-toe work boot that will offer him pain relief, as well?

  66. p.s. he does have custom orthotic insoles, but they don’t seem to help in his current work boots

  67. I have HR in both feet. I am 12 weeks post-fusion surgery on the right foot and am hoping to go as long as I possibly can before I get the surgery done on my left one (which still has the tiniest bit of movement). Can anyone recommend a cute sandal for the spring? I tried Alegria Verona… nope. It’s a bit too flexible.

    • I’ve found cute sandals in Dansko and Abeo (Walking Company brand) that work for me–Have HL in one foot.

    • I have HR in both feet, but have only had surgery on my right one. I usually wear orthotics, but obviously that’s tough with sandals. I put a post on here looking for sandals with built in orthotics as I once heard that it was possible. But alas, I didn’t hear anything to that affect. I can’t wear Dansko or Abeo as they don’t come in narrow, so the best I can do is Birkenstocks. If my joint is bothering me i try to wear my tennis shoes and orthotics for a day, and then I can usually get back to my Birks or Naots too. Good luck!

    • Wolky and Finn both make sandals with removable orthotics. I’ve tried both but I can not wear sandals with this condition, I find it hurts too much and I feel that my feet are really out there unprotected and that doesn’t feel good. I think Alegria makes the most sturdy sandal so I am surprised that you find them flexible! Good luck to you, I would just forget it and stick to shoes!!!

  68. Awesome! Thanks for the info. I just ordered a pair of Aetrex from zappos. They might also be flexible, but it’s worth a shot. I can always send them back :) I also have my 3-month post-surgery follow up with the podiatrist next week… I’ll ask about orthotics, though he doesn’t seem to be a big fan of them for some reason.

  69. I am planning chelectomy surgery next month on my right big toe, Is this a mistake?
    Has anyone been happy with this surgery. Of course the doctor acts like it will be a walk in the park (for him). I have bone spurs and am in pain every day, I miss walking but at least can still ride long distance on a bike thanks to the stiff bike shoes
    I am scared to death of this surgery and need advice. Two doctors say I have no choice.

    • I have mixed feeling about this surgery. I’ve heard that even after it, people have to wear special shoes. So I just wear double rocker soles and avoid any movement – its the same result. I also have bone spurs. The surgery prevents bending therefore pain, but if you can do that with shoes, it would be the same result I would think. Its all about the shoes IMO – which is why we spend so much time talking about them here :). I use double rocker soles (MBTs) or stiff shoes like clogs and it avoids the bending, but then again I do have some movement, so I guess it depends on your particular condition, your tolerance for pain etc. Good luck – hope you get some responses. My coworkers husband just had it – I’ll ask her how its going with him.

    • Oops – I realized the chelectomy is different than the bone fusion surgery- thats what I was talking about above. I dont know about the chelectomy. Sorry

    • I’ve had 2 cheilectomies on my right big toe. It was definitely the right decision both times. The first surgeon did a great job on my toe–quite sore for a few weeks afterwards but I had pain pills. I changed podiatrists and the 2nd surgeon was not nearly as aggressive in cleaning up the joint as the 1st surgeon, and it was only around 2 years before I started having more pain in the joint. I developed hallux rigidus after a few years and found an EXCELLENT podiatrist this time. I’ve started pulling the toe joint regularly to stretch it out as much as possible, and that has helped immensely. He told me due to the progression, a cheilectomy won’t help me anymore, and he suggested I have a hemi procedure (partial toe joint replacement). I don’t like that option so I’m putting that off until things get unbearable. So far things have been very bearable. I developed hallux limitus around 15 years ago, and it developed into rigidus around 5 years ago. It ain’t cancer so I don’t complain much about the condition. It started around 18 years ago after I fell & badly broke my ankle, which changed the gait on my right foot. The toe stretching and manual joint manipulation that I do keep my toe quite comfortable most of the time, and I’m very happy about that. I was afraid the condition would end my hobby, which is hiking (of all things), but I wear stiff soled hiking boots (NEVER wear any shoes hiking unless they are good and stiff and you have plenty of room in the toe box). I wear orthotics too–I bought the Stay Fit brand purchased off the shelf (I think they are an “As Seen On TV” brand). THey are inexpensive and feel just as good as the custom orthotics I have. So do NOT be afraid of having the cheilectomy. After the stitches heal you’ll be so glad you did. The spurs will grow back, but you’ll be pain free for who knows how long in the interim. Keep wearing those still soled shoes–you’ll be fine.

  70. I’m only 33 with Hallux Limitus. Has anyone else been diagnosed at a younger age? I’m terrified that this is going to progress so quickly and I’ll end up with fused joints before retirement age. If you can share experiences about how quickly your condition deteriorated – or conversely, how long you were able to keep it at bay – I would be so appreciative!

    • Hi have had hr since teens. I am now 53 and am managing although I think I may have to go for minimally invasive cheilectomy in next 5 yrs or so. It’s important to keep muscles strong and flexible. I use a spikey massage ball every day

    • Valerie Mirwis

      I, as well, was diagnosed young. This is what I have done: I IMMERSED myself in everything foot related. I read whatever I could get my hands on. I tried EVERY suggestion that I came across. And u know what??? I am VERY successfully managing my problem (hallux rigidus). So if u read about foods, herbs, vitamins that might help, try it! If u read about footwear that ppl r pleased w, order it! If u read about stretches to do, do it! If u read about things to avoid, avoid them. And, I have definitely “thrown some money away” in the process but I have NO regrets! I want to help myself, I want to avoid surgery at all costs AND, I want to dance at my seven children’s weddings!! Good luck!

    • Hi Jules, my problem started around your age and now at 48 I have Hallux Rigidus in both big toes complete with spurs. I began wearing Danskos around 35 and have lived in them since. However, I was not adjusting my sneaker/hiking shoes/golf shoes to accommodate and I think it made things progress faster. Years of hiking, running, golfing, aerobics, etc. were not kind to my feet. Still, I have staved off surgery by living in my Danskos and have thrown out all those beautiful girly shoes that would look great but leave me hobbling for the ibuprofen. Choosing the right shoes and the right activities is helpful.

    • My HR started when I was about 48 and I’m now 61. I had done a massive amount of hillwalking and long-distance walking. UK doctors often go straight for fusion but I decided that it was too big and irreversible a change. MBTs did it for me more than Danskos but I also found comfort with stiff soled Merrell trainers. Birkenstocks in the house give support and arch support. I saw a brilliant podiatrist in San Francisco, who gave me a good protocl involving icing, toe manipulation (pulling and so on), getting the right orthotics and s bit of taping. As well as xrays, he also took an MRI which none of the UK NHS soecialists had done and that showed precisely where the inflammation was. He had me wear a removable boot (like a cast boot) for a while to allow the inflammation to subside.
      Recently I saw an Ayurvedic doctor who is treating it with herbals and diet and the pain seems to be easing, but it’s too early to be sure – I will let you know. I did a 4-5 mile hillwalk last weekfor the first time in many years.
      One important thing which may be reassuring is that there has been pretty much no change for the last 6 or 7 years.
      Good luck – this condition is liveable-with, although you may spend an inordinate amount of time trying on shoes!

      • Lizzie could you share the name of that brilliant podiatrist that you saw in San Francisco, I travel there frequently. The doc I am seeing here is not giving me enough guidance and feel like I am on my own with finding the proper treatment above and beyond orthotics. Thanks

      • Dear Susanna,
        The podiatrist is Richard Blake, DPM whom I have the highest regard for, however if you are in San Francisco, you really should see me. As principal and founder of Financial District Foot & Ankle Center, I have over 20 years of lower extremity sports medicine experience, and am the only podiatrist in the country with a state-of-the-art gait lab, including video and insole pressure testing. Because of this I am uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat not only hallux limitus — but all foot and ankle issues. Additionally, no other podiatrist has the experience or expertise I have with shoes (hence my creation of this blog in 2007). Please visit my website fdfac.com or my youtube channel which will give you a more comprehensive understanding of my practice and the services offered.
        Regards,
        Dr. Sanders

      • A lot of people on this blog seem to talk about their podiatrist manipulating, pulling and stretching the toe? I don’t understand this, am I missing something? I would think that would hurt so much and be bad for this condition.

      • Same question as Peggy. Should I be doing exercises? Sounds so painful. But I have h. limitus and I want to maintain function if I can. What kind of exercises. My podiatrist was very unhelpful — just gave me a diagnosis and told me never to flex the toe. I wish I still lived in San Francisco so I could see Dr. Sanders!

  71. Jules–read my comments above in response to Nan’s question regarding a cheilectomy. I was in my mid 30s when I developed hallux limitus. Do NOT be terrified (please). You’ll be just fine and you’ll be so glad you had the procedure. I developed HL around 15 years ago and had 2 cheilectomies during that time. I have had hallux rigidus for 5 years now–I learned to pull and stretch the toe joint and I have to say, alot of the time, I can’t even tell I have the condition because my toe feels good most of the time. My podiatrist had told me I needed a partial toe joint replacement. He said he would not consider a fusion until I was at least 62-63 years old. At the rate I’m going, I may never need it. I refused to have to partial joint replacement after reading horror stories online, so I’m managing it by working the joint and wearing stiff soled shoes with orthotics. I’m past qualifying for another cheilectomy, but if I still only had hallux limitus and I needed another cheilectomy, I’d have it in a heartbeat. You’ll need to keep your foot elevated after the procedure and keep ice packs on it for a bit, but you’ll be just fine and after the toe heals, you’ll be so happy. Please, do not be afraid. It takes years to progress (it’s been 15 years for me and I hike every weekend with a group of hikers). I only occasionally am aware that my toe is stiff. It certainly doesn’t control what I want to do in my life. And my toe is quite stiff. I find that heat makes the joint feel great (a hot bath does wonders for a stiff toe!).

  72. THANK YOU!!!! You all made me feel so much better. Reading Google can be terrifying sometimes. I’m very active and have young kids so I can’t imagine being debilitated by this at a young age. I’m definitely looking into much better shoes and vitamins/supplements and definitely PT. Along the line of shoes – will I ever be able to wear sandals again?? I’ve always thought my FitFlops and Chacos were supportive but will sandals make things worse without an orthotic (which I don’t have yet)?

    • You should not wear the rubber flip flops as they have no support at all and your toe will bend with every step and it will be very painful. There are lots of sandals with stiff soles that look fine for summertime wear. I have a pair of leather sandals (the style is along the line of flip flops) but they have nice, thick sturdy soles that feel terrific and look good with shorts. :-) I don’t need to wear my orthotic with them.

    • Brenda Grable

      There are quite a few brands of sandals that accomodate orthotics ( Aravon, Aetrex are a couple); however, I have not been able to wear them with my type of orthotic. But you might be able to and it’s worth a try. I do have a couple of pair of Aravon that don’t accomodate orthotics and I can wear them if I am not going to be on my feet much (going out to eat). but when it come to running errands I wear running shoes, even though I’d prefer to ear a sandal in the summer.

  73. Valerie Mirwis

    There are MANY good choices w footwear that have worked for me and are fashionable as well. They are NOT cheap, but well worth feeling and looking amazing! (Naot, Robert Clergerie, prada, Kork-ease). Good luck!!

  74. Hi, I’ve been looking for a good slipper to wear to accommodate my hallux rigidus, anyone find anything? I’ve tried everything from cheap brands on up to Uggs, still no luck. Any ideas would be welcome – thank you!

    • I wear a pair of Bear Paws, not that expensive bought at a local Big 5 and I put a pair of orthotics in them, works for me!

    • It’s always Birkenstocks for me – with thick socks in winter!. Stability and a certain amount of instep support. Feet feel insecure without them!

    • I wear Crocs in the winter and thick-soled sturdy sandals in the summer. Crocs has a fake-fur shoe that look great with jeans and are SO comfortable (because they don’t bend, of course!). Always think STIFF, THICK SOLES!

    • I recently bought a pair of Orthoheel slippers that work pretty well. They have very good support and are stiff.

      • Hi-are orthoheel slippers for wide feet-with the hallux bump I need that-are they adjustable at the toes?

      • Easily Distracted Designer

        Yes, they’re wide in the toe. I have a hallux bump, too, and these slippers are almost TOO wide. I have to fasten the Velcro at tight as it will go. If you order them through zappos you can get return shipping free if they don’t work for you.

      • Easily Distracted Designer

        Again–I mean the Gemma slipper. I tried the Geneva, too, but it bends way too much.

      • Thank you all for the slipper advice! I’m settling with the LL Bean brand now, which long term won’t work. I’ll try the Orthoheel brand next!

    • Easily Distracted Designer

      PS–the Gemma has a much stiffer sole than the Geneva Orthoheel. It runs about a size large, though, so drop down if you order. They’re also wide, but you can add a sock if needed. Excellent support.

      • I looked up the orthoheel slippers and saw a Relax that has a cross strap and open toes and looks adjustable-I rather like open toes as they feel cooler-tried those? Are they similar to the Gemma? They both look like they have the great arch! Thanks

    • I just bought a pair of Easy Spirit Traveltime clog that I wear as slippers around the house – http://www.amazon.com/Easy-Spirit-Womens-Traveltime-Clog/dp/B004S91NXM/ref=pd_sbs_shoe_4
      They’re wonderful for my HL. Much better than my Crocs and LL Bean slippers. I found them on clearance for $27. They’re wool on top so they keep my feet warm around the house and I’m well supported in them.

      • For me, best slippers, hands down, are the “Encore Ice” model by Merrell. They are spendy, but will last a long time, and it beats shelling out $$ for slippers that end up not working out. These are cozy fleece inside, with leather uppers and a firm “walking” sole with that provides excellent arch and toe support. Unfortunately, Merrell has discontinued them, but I searched and found some online, so I now have a back-up pair.

      • Thank you for the slipper advice! I am now going to try to order the easy spirit traveltime clog and see if i can find the encore ice by merrel or something similar.

      • So I ended up throwing out the Traveltimes. They were great in the beginning but once they really broke in, they became too flexible. I now absolutely LOVE my Haflinger wool/cork slippers. They give me the nice supportive cork sole that I love from my Birkenstocks but they have a warm wool upper for tooling around the house.

      • I have a question for those of you with Hallux Rigidus. Do any of you also have high arches? I don’t know how I missed it all these years, but I have recently found out that I do, and it seems as if I now need an arch support in addition to my carbon fiber inserts that keep my toes from bending. So if you do, how do you handle that?

  75. I am so pleased to have come across this site. I have HL both toes, with spurs only on the left. Just saw a podiatrist — custom orthotics now $480. I have worn Dansko, Klogs, Keen, Merrell — I have wide feet, and the spur makes most shoes difficult. I just found out about Cole Hill by New Balance. I got the Delsy, I think that is what it is named. Very firm footbed, elastic upper, ankle strap — nice sandal. It got two compliments the first day I wore it. I, too, fear surgery of any kind as I work, live alone and have no one easily available to drive me anywhere. When I heard about the 90 day immobility and the sitting with leg up recovery, I knew it was something I can not afford to do (time, energy, $$$’s) in the near term. I stand at work and wear Klogs — very comfortable shoe. I just found out that roughly 30 pairs of shoes in my closet must go —- I have been relegated to a life w/o heels of any kind — not even boots!!! Best of luck to you all, it has been a comfort to read your entries. Thanks for the shoe advise.

  76. Hello L in Seattle – can you tell us some more about “Cole Hill by New Balance. I got the Delsy” – can’t seem to track it down on the web. Thank you!

  77. Lizzie and Karen, so sorry I meant “Cobb Hill” and “Fay” . . . I guess I have seen too many shoes of late, all those names . . . I double checked the box in my closet this time. Bought through Zappos — $71 I think.

  78. Good news – MBTs, which have been a life saver for me, have new styles out. I had heard they were going out of business (and bought up a ridiculous amount of them last year to stock up) but I guess they were bought out or something. This is such a relief. See: http://www.footwearetc.com/mbt/?=&s=c3wz&v=grid There are some cute new sandals. Still wish they wouldn’t put a white sole on a dark shoe though. Not trying to draw attention to my feet!

  79. Here is my experience. The cheilectomy was a good thing, though I had quite a bit of pain at first as I could not tolerate the painkiller the hospital gave me so had none at all. Eventually I got another, and that did the trick. It was a slow heal, but I was much better afterwards. Ten years later, with pain acting up again, I went to a podiatrist. (My initial doc was an orthopedic surgeon.) He prescribed physical therapy, which involved toe manipulation. It was a big mistake! Did nothing for me except make matters worse. Even the physical therapists agreed, and instead helped me with balance exercises and lots of ice. I would not recommend doing those manipulations, but I know everyone is different. As for flip flops, I can wear a pair around the house and garden with no problems! They have Tempurpedic soles — just wonderful for my sore toe joint. The brand was Zeeland, and I got them at the Walking Company in Chicago. Have no idea if they are still available, but anyone who loves flip flops might want to try them. True they have no support. But they are wonderfully soft and much better than most of the shoes I have tried!

  80. I found a great product for hallux rigidus suffers that really works. I went to 6 doctors , (3 were NY city top specialists), before one of them told me to try Gel Dancer Pads from Dr Jill’s Food Pads Inc. (866) 366-8723 or drjillsfootpads.com. They are made of gel that sticks to the bottom of your foot with a space cut out to unload the big toe joint. They great thing about them is that you can wash them and use them over and over again. Cost is $11.99 for 2 pair. They come in 2 thickness – regular and thick. I like the regular.

    • Their website does have other products to stiffen the soul – I searched on Hallux Rigidus on the site and it brought up steel sole inserts that limit dorsiflexion at the MP joints. $39 – 59

      • I bought some of these steel sole inserts through the mail. They were 2″ too long for my size 8 1/2 shoe! You wouldn’t be able to wear them in different styles of shoes, although I was really anxious to try them. Had to return them & didn’t go with the smaller size because someone on here said theirs were too short–I didn’t want to waste a bunch of $ in shipping charges.

  81. This seems opposite of what I would want for my big toe joint, being a hr/hl sufferer. I would think that you would want to support the big toe joint so that it doesn’t bend.

  82. Gave up New Balance after issues with them changing models all the time after I find a good pair and thought wearing running shoes for walking might work with my orthotics-fleet feet very helpful but anyone worn Brooks Addiction 10 or Ariel as they suggested? Any other running shoe with a firm forefoot area?Thanks-just want to walk a mile with dog and use them to run errands without toe hurting!

    • You should give them a try. Both are available on Zappos. I’ve tried both Brooks Addiction 10 and Ariel. Although they were fine for my toe, they had an arch that was incompatible with my orthodics. I have a hard time finding a torsionally stable but neutral shoe that will allow my orthodics to do most of the correction work. Still looking. I’m using the Brooks Ravenna 4 right now, and although it’s not too bad, it does not provide sufficient stability or forefoot rigidity to be a permanent solution for me.

  83. I’m so annoyed at my feet, but I love this site! I was recently diagnosed with HR after a broken toe didn’t heal. I’ve also had plantar fasciitis surgery and tibial tendinitis. I’m scheduled for an MRI of my toe next week; Now that it’s summer, I find I’m only comfortable wearing my walking shoes with orthotics in the morning. When it gets hot, I switch to sandals. I can no longer wear my $$$ Naots. But, surprisingly, I can wear my Teva Tirra sandals for hours quite comfortably. They have a lot of support and 3 adjustable straps. I love them, and alternate 2 pairs. Yeah, after a long day, my feet hurt, but, for me, these work better than any other sandals. Now I’ll follow some of the suggestions above to buy new walking shoes.

  84. Easily Distracted Designer

    Ladies: I just bout the new Arden style by Dansko and it is the most comfortable Dansko yet for my hallux limitus. They are wider and softer in the toe box, and also slightly lower in the heel, making for a very comfy fit. Kind of a bootie look, too, which I like. They come in a Mary Jane style, too, which would be good with dresses.

  85. Thanks for the tip. Will definitely check out the Arden, since Dansko and Sanita shoes seem to work best for me. (Hallux Rigidus in right toe.) Anyone have any suggestions for winter boots? I find this season the hardest to deal with. Right now I am using some old Dansko boots, and even older Hi-Tec boots., but neither is great. Need a replacement for the snow! Also, would love to get some dress boots, but maybe that is an impossible dream!

    • Last year I bought a pair made by Propet because they came in the very small size I need. They have a removable foot bed so I can put my carbon fiber plate in and then the foot bed back on top. However, the arch support is minimal. Still we have had so much snow this year that I have been glad to have them. I ordered them from Zappos

  86. Thanks for the tip. Will try the Arden. (Hallux rigidus in my right toe, diagnosed years and years ago.) Anyone have any suggestions for winter boots? I find this season the absolute worst to deal with it. Mostly I need them for the snow, but I still dream of having actual dress boots too!

    • Easily Distracted Designer

      Re winter boots: I have HL in my right toe. I ended up buying Hunter Wellingtons and using a turf toe inset to keep my foot stiff. You can order them on Amazon for about $50. You’ll need another soft insert to put on top of it since it’s hard, but it does keep your toe from moving. You can move them from shoe to shoe, too.

  87. Interesting to see the number of women to men on this thread. Higher prevalence or more willing to consult online forums? I’m 30 and have been diagnosed with Hallux Rigidis after pain for the last 3 years. A Cheilectomy has been the advice given. I am waiting until I have the money for the op. I like the sound of the French joint-preservation precedure mentioned at the top though. Toes crossed…

  88. Hi everyone I have read alot of your post and I completely sympothize with all of you. I love going to the gym and walking, cycling, buying shoes of all kinds, but I’m in alot of pain when wearing certain shoes now. I have had this problem with Hallux Rigidus for several years now. My doctor told me I am between a stage 2 and 3. This is very depressing for me cause I really just don’t know what route to take for recovery or some kind of pain relief. I got my first cortison shot and it feels a little better and I ordered orthidontic inserts to put in my sneakers, which just to let everyone know if you need a good sneaker I found that Brooks(ghost style) are amazingly comfortable I think I could actually sleep with them on. I wear crocs in the house, barefoot walking is just too bothersome and makes my feet ache too much. I have actually seen 4 drs in the Miami area, Dr. Baum, Dr. Ledder, Dr. Small, and Dr. Oliva. Some were helpful and some were terrible, they’re diagnosing was from very conservative to extreme. some said Chilectomy to clean out joint and others saud joint replacement or a fusion between the bones. I very scared of surgery because of all the horror stories I have heard. I just don’t really know what to do. If anyone knows of a good recommendation in Miami please let me know I will keep on trying different Doctors until I feel I have found the right one. Oh and now when I want to dress up a little more dressier I found some really pretty pink and purple Top Sperrys at Nordstrom and they are pretty comfortoable for a few hours. I am 45 years of age and I really still want to act and feel young. I love this website, support everyone going through this, cause it isn’t funnn. Keep posting have a better day:)

    • Don’t get depressed and let your situation control how you feel! I’ve had HR for a few years now (I’m 58). Two doctors said the cheilectomy wouldn’t help me anymore (I’ve already had 2 of them) because now the joint is worn out. There is no way I would ever have that joint replacement surgery after reading horror story after horror story online. If that surgery fails, there are no options for us. The doctors said I was too young for a fusion; however, if I still need one when I’m around age 64 or so, that’s what I’m going to have. Until then, I live with HR, and I am an avid hiker. I only recently bought some of the dancer’s pads–wow! what a difference they have made for me! I always wear my orthotic, and I stretch and pull on my toe (whenever I can remember to) to try to keep the joint limbered up. I usually do this after a hot shower when the joint is warmed up. Sometimes my toe doesn’t hurt at all! Of course stretching the joint isn’t recommended for everyone, but my doctor sent me to physical therapy 2 years ago, which is the last time I had a cortisone shot, and it was definitely the right recommendation for me. Of course I wish I didn’t have HR, but hey, it ain’t cancer and I’m not going to bypass doing anything I want to do. Keep living your life, wear your orthotic and your comfortable shoes, get you some of the dancer’s pads, and hopefully you’ll feel great! Have a good day everyone!!

      • Linda, can you tell me a little bit more about the dancer pads and how you can purchase them. Birkenstock sandals have given me much relief, I even wear them in the winter ( in the house ) with heavy socks they are my go to slippers.

      • Sure. I ordered them through Amazon (always my ‘go to’ store!). I actually just ordered a couple more after I realized they sell ‘extra thick’ ones. Plus, you can buy them for the specific foot you need them for–since most likely you don’t need them for both left and right feet. I ordered the Dr Jill’s Gel Dancers Pads. I have seen them recommended on this blog, and they have great reviews on Amazon too.

      • Thank You!

  89. Has anyone tried a “cluffy wedge” for hallux limitus? I see them on Amazon but wonder if they are any good.

  90. I love this blog. I have learned so much and researched various products I wasn’t aware of, thanks to everyone here. :-)

  91. Anyone find a slipper that can accommodate orthotics?

  92. Chiming in here – my Hallux Limitus has improved so much with my chiropractor visits. I found a great chiropractor in the area who has increased my range of motion substantially. I no longer have any stiffness. But I’m still being very cautious about my footwear so I don’t set myself back to wear I was. Love her! Also, I found some incredible sneakers that take all the pressure off my toes. I walked a 5k with them right out of the box and felt fantastic. They’re called Hoka One One. They’re pricey but so worth it. I also found new slippers that I love for the house. They have a Birkenstock-type cork sole but wool upper so they keep me warm. They’re called Haflinger.

    • I’ve looked up the Hoka One One. They look very good. I wear a 10W and was wondering do you find them on the wide side or narrow side? I have bumps on both big toe joints so I need a deep shoe also and would be taking out the insert to put in my own orthotics. Any info you could give me would be much appreciated!!

      • Hoka One One is all the rage in endurance running right now (>26 miles), and is only offered in medium widths. I have used it successfully for several of my hallux limitus/rigidus patients. The Bondi Evo runs the widest. Since you are a 10W, you can also try a men’s size, which would provide more volume (depth). Hoke One One is orthotic compatible.

      • ok I will try that, thank you! Is the rocker different than the Skecher shoe? I used those but found balancing very difficult.

      • It’s much better and not as pitched, rounded or soft. I would purchase from Zappos.com and try around the house first.

  93. I’m so glad to find this site too, I’ve had hallux limitus for 5 years and noticing shoes that worked before no longer work. I called the foot surgeon I had seen previously and was told by his assistant that he would only see me if I’m ready for fusion surgery! Can anyone recommend who I may see in the Minneapolis area.

  94. Has anyone had bone spurs shaved down on their big toe joints? I have one on each and they are getting to the point where I can’t stand it anymore! My doctor wants to do both feet at once. He says it will be ok that way. I’m leery about doing both at once. If anyone has had this done, please let me know! Much appreciated.

    • I am a 55 year old female with degenerative arthritis of the primary metatarsil. I had a bi-lateral cheilectomy and a moberg (cut out a piece of bone and put in a screw) on my right foot. It is now 9 weeks after the double operation. The first week I had the compression dressing and the Frankenstein shoes. They gave me a walker which I used for one day. I was walking from the time I left the hospital. It is incredibly important to keep your feet elevated. It prevents swelling which will hinder recover. The second day after surgery, the pain was so intense we had to double the pain pills. After that day, it was cut down until I was only on aspirin at the end of the week. The second week was a light compression dressing and still the Frankenstein shoes. (Keep them on always and sleep with them). It takes two weeks for the stitches to heal. I showered with the shoes on in hefty bags. After the first two weeks, the compression dressing came off and the shoes, and I could now wear flip flops because they didn’t press on the scars which were on the sides of my feet. I have proceeded to feel less pain and itching as the weeks go by. At week 8 the doctor told me to use Vitamin E creme on the scars and massage to break up the scar tissue. They are healing nicely. X-rays at week 8 also said I was healing on schedule. The doctor told me that I would feel semi-normal at 3 months but the total complete healing takes about a year. He has me pressing my hand against my foot/toe to stretch it and encourage motion. The only concern I have right now is still a difficulty going down stairs. Still feel like Charlie Chaplin. Anyone experiencing this and did it go away? I did both feet at once and very glad I did. For those of you who are coddling yourselves, the best thing to do is get up and walk immediately. The pain lessens as each day and week go by. Again the rule of thumb from the doctors are three months to feel somewhat normal.

      • wow, thanks for that! I think!!! The more I read the more I am inclined to just do one, the worst one first. This is not something I look forward too! My spurs are so big that I can not wear a shoe comfortably at this point. Its really awful.

    • I would avoid doing both feet at the same time. Everyone heals differently. It’s important to see how you do with one foot before doing the other. Sometimes people find it wasn’t worth doing the surgery. I had a cheilectomy at age 51 for stage 2-3 hallux rigidus. I am 3 months out and I still do not have the flexibility that I had hoped for. I can’t jog, climb or do certain yoga positions. The bone spur on the top of my foot was removed, so at least the pain is gone there. I can wear more shoes now, but the bending of my foot has not improved. As a result, I am going to put off doing my other foot as long as I can. I’m looking into a splint to be used for increasing flexibility, but many insurances do not cover it.

      • thanks for the information. I do have flexibility in both big toes. Quite a bit. My problem seems to be bone spurs on both joints. I will not do both at once, my doctor suggested that it could be done but I know I can’t do that too risky. I’m still mulling this all over…a lot of comments to digest. I’d really rather do nothing but the spurs keep getting bigger and very uncomfortable in shoes of any kind although some work for a while.

  95. Jules and Dr. Shoe…I love you both!!! I went and bought a pair of Hoka One One (Mens Bondi fit me BEST)and I am walking. I have had pain for so long with bone spurs on both big toe joints. I have motion but everything rubs on these spurs, it hurts a lot to walk in anything. I went to Fleet Feet today and tried them on and wow!!! They are like walking clouds, I am so happy! Thank you, Thank you Thank you!!!!! No pain for the first time in a very long time.

    • Fantastic news Peggy! Thanks for the update and sharing your experience. It’s really helpful for our readers.

      • Hi-I have had cheillectomy on one foot and other of course has the dorsal bunion. Like above Peggy, I went to fleet feet and they put me in a Brooks Dyad 7 which is good for with different lacing I can pull the heels snug and use a carbon graphite plate in unoperated foot/shoe and otc Aetrex orthotics. I have worn Aetrex rocker walking sport shoes and did not really like them as inside heel areas worn down quickly but are the Hoka one one’s different? I am getting ready to buy the newer Brooks Dyad coming out in July so wonder if that is a good choice?

      • I would definitely try Hoka One One. I too am a fan of the Bondi model. As with any shoe, I would try before you buy 1st. Order them from Zappos.com, try them around the house and if they don’t feel right — return. Good luck!

  96. minajotheresa….how long ago did you have that operation? I see you only did one foot. Was it painful and how long was recovery? I have movement in both joints but I am just wondering. I’m hoping with the bondi shoe I can hold it off but its probably something I have to do at some point.

    • minajotheresa

      I had it two years ago following a total hip replacement on same side-hip first for feet have to be elevated and hip was very painful before surgery-excellent after thus could elevate! The recuperation was longer than for my hip! About 3 months till putting on normal shoes which of course are just the ones that work with the unoperated foot so I use Merrell encore slides for short shopping trips,Alegria for dinners etc. Brooks for short walking. I have decided I do best with cycling and swimming though I do wear a Keen water shoe for water aerobics which is pretty supportive! Oh the stable rocker shoes (Aetrex for me)not Skechers etc.were okay so that is why I shall try the bondi but I am not crazy about rocker bottoms. Did I forget anything? Nice to have this great group-thank you Dr. Shoe!

      • If you don’t mind me asking Mina, how old are you? I’m 59 going on 60. Just curious as to how all this will effect me! Regarding the Bondi, they are not like Skechers at all, no balancing problem for me. I hated theSkechers, couldn’t really walk anywhere with them w/o having my ankle turnover a lot. The Bondi’s are pricey 150, but they way I look at it, I don’t care what they cost if I can walk w/them its worth every penny. So far so good. I got the men’s because they run wider than the women’s and I wear a 10W in women’s so I have the 9 in the men’s. Its a medium size but its definitely wide enough for my foot and my orthotic.

      • Gosh no-turning 66 in a couple months-I am putting off doing the other foot as I need the other hip replaced first and I have a lot on my plate family wise so have to postpone things so yes, we do need to find shoes that make walking bearable because I know I feel worse when I don’t get some exercise. I shall try the Bondi’s and I also paid $150 for some New Balance shoes that wore down in the heel area within a couple weeks. Anyhow isn’t like $30 a month worth it as we need to replace shoes about every 6 months anyhow! Fleet Feet was super to me when I tried out some shoes for a couple weeks and when they did not work out, they just offered me a different style etc. Great people there too and they know their stuff about postings etc.!

  97. I was diagnosed with Hallux rigidus this year, but I have been plagued with pain in my right big toe for years. I also have 2 bad ankles. My podiatrist recommended surgery to replace the big toe joint, but I am not sure I am ready for that yet. I have a big bone spur also (my X-rays look exactly like the ones above)…Anyway, I stopped hiking as much as I used to until I found a really comfortable pair of hiking boots: the Merrell Salida Mids…really roomy toe box and very comfortable overall. I took them on a 12 mile hike the second day I had them; no pain! I was very pleased with them. If you are an active person and don’t want to be laid low by this condition, I highly recommend these. You can see more comfortable shoes for a variety of foot ailments at this site: http://www.barkingdogshoes.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s