Dr. Justin Colanese, an orthopedic surgeon with Memorial's Orthopedic and Neurosciences Center, describes different toe arthritis treatment options from injections to surgery.
With big toe joint arthritis, or hallux rigidus, there are some non-operative things that can be tried first. A stiff insole to keep the big toe from moving when walking in your shoe can be helpful. Sometimes steroid injections or topical or oral anti-inflammatories can help.
There are several different surgical procedures for toe arthritis. The simplest one would be a cheilectomy, which is basically just shaving off the bone spur and is a very useful procedure. Another option would be fusing the big toe joint, and patients do very well with a fused big toe joint. Basically, if you fuse two bones together, there's no more joint, and there's no more pain. Patients without pain generally walk better than they did. Having a fused toe does have some minor changes in the way people walk and their gait, but not as much as you might think. The big toe bears a lot more weight than the other toes. The lesser toes don't have quite as much function. They're more for proprioception and balance to some extent, but the big toe really bears a lot of the weight when you walk and when you push off.