Hallux rigidus toe surgery recovery time

Updated July 19, 2017

Hallux rigidus is a condition commonly called "stiff big toe." It occurs when arthritis in the area makes it difficult or impossible for the big toe to bend at its base.


If non-surgical treatment fails to relieve the pain from hallux rigidus, surgical options are considered.


If the damage to the bones in the toe is mild to moderate, a cheilectomy, or shaving of bone, can be performed to help the toe move. The recovery time includes wearing a special shoe for two weeks, and the area may be swollen for several months post-surgery.


If a chielectomy did not help relieve the symptoms, a cut on the bone of the phalanx (toe bone) may be needed. This is called an osteotomy. Swelling begins to go down in six to eight weeks but healing goes on for up to a year.


If hallux rigidus has caused severe cartilage damage, an arthrodesis might be performed, which fuses the bones together. Recovery includes wearing a cast for six weeks and crutches for four to six weeks after cast removal.


Replacing the joint of the big toe, or arthroplasty, may be an option. The recovery time is the same as an osteotomy.

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About the Author

Susan Presley has worked in health care journalism since 2007, and has been published in the American Journal of Nursing and other academic periodicals. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Truman State University and a Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.