Hallux Rigidus: your questions answered

I get so many emails with questions about the foot surgery (cheilectomy) I had last year for my Hallux Rigidus that I decided to do an FAQ post. If you know of anyone that has this issue and/or pain, please direct them here!

1. What were your symptoms?

I started to feel mild pain in my big toe after I would go for long runs. At first I thought this was a result of my shoes not fitting correctly. I realized something was seriously wrong when my then 2 year old son would step on my foot and the pain was so bad I would scream. I went to a podiatrist who diagnosed it as  Hallux Rigidus, which is sometimes referred to as “turf toe”.    A bone spur had grown across the top of my big toe joint, making it difficult to bend the toe.

2. Did you try orthotics?

Before surgery, no, I did not have orthotics.  By the time my condition was diagnosed, it was too late for orthotics to make any difference.  The bone spur was already too big and causing pain.   Now I have orthotics and I need to wear them all the time for comfort. If I am not wearing my shoes with orthotics, I only wear my shoes from Kurufootwear.com.  They are designed for people with foot issues and worth every penny!

3. What exactly did you have done?

I had a basic Cheilectomy. The doctor opened up my foot and removed the bone spur that was on top of my toe joint. I did not need any fusing of bones or metal rods inserted in my foot. (I did however wake up during surgery. Ugh!)

4. What kind of doctor did you go to?

For the actual surgery, I went to an Orthopedist, based on a referral. After the procedure, I switched to a Podiatrist for a follow up care. He was disappointed with the location of my incision, telling me that it was made over several key nerves in my foot. (which might be why I was still in so much pain.) Again, my advice is to research your doctor as much as possible.

5. How long was your recovery?

This is a tough one. I was mistakenly told I would be back running within a few weeks. This was NOT the case. It was at least six months before I felt okay enough to run on it again. I went to a chiropractor to help break up the scar tissue that was causing so much pain. Research your doctor and make sure you are both on the same page for your recovery plans. My doctor was used to treating older patients so his objective was to get the patient up and moving again. My objective was to be up and RUNNING again, not just moving.

6. Can you wear high heels now?

This question always makes me giggle. I’m not sure! I don’t own any high heels because I’ve never liked wearing them.

7. How is your foot now?

Sadly, it is still in pain. Not even just with running. If I walk for an extended period of time, it starts to throb. If I do impact exercises (like jumping rope, jumping jacks, etc.) for too long, it aches for hours afterward. Even doing a simple lunge (where your toe has to bend and bear most of your body weight), hurts.

I hate to type this, but my foot will never be the same.  It it very unlikely that I will ever run another marathon.

I cannot stress enough how IMPORTANT your feet are! Take care of them! Don’t go cheap when it comes to shoes, treat your feet to the very best shoe possible!

Hopefully I answered your question about Hallux Rigidus but if not, please feel free to contact me. And if you have had surgery, please leave a comment below and let us know how it went or how you are doing now.


  1. Katie says

    Love the blog post, but very sorry your toe is still in pain! Every little bit of education helps, and you’re right- taking care of your feet is critical! Thanks for the informative post, let me know if I can help in any way :)
    .-= Katie ´s last blog ..What an Altitude Tent Looks Like =-.

  2. says

    good lord this was depressing to read! i just had a cheilectomy on july 17th and i am desparately hoping to start running again tomorrow (lol), i was cleared by the doc to give it a shot at 6 weeks (tomorrow). i have been hitting the gym and i still have a fair amount of swelling and a bit of stiffness… not presently using orthotics. had them before surgery, have thought about using em now but unsure. i hope your foot gets better and i say this was depressing, because i had the surgery and my ONLY goal in the next 6 months is to be able to complete the marathon i am signed up for in january. UGH!! time to pray!
    becca´s last blog post ..failing vs winning?