What Is Hallux Rigidus

A disorder of the joint located at the base of the big toe. It causes pain and stiffness, and with time it gets increasingly harder to bend the toe. The word “Hallux” refers to the big toe, while “Rigidus” indicates that the toe cannot move.

A Cheilectomy procedure removes Bone Spurs from the joint of the Big toe, curing the condition known as Hallux Rigidis.

Foot Specialists define Cheilectomy as an operation of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, where the big toe bends and attaches back to the foot. The procedure involves a surgeon making an incision on the skin and removing excess bone with the aid of orthopedic tools that cut away at the bone spurs.

Generally, the bone spurs form at the top of the joint, but surgeons can remove bone spurs on the sides of the joint during cheilectomy surgery as well. 

Orthopedic surgeons or podiatrists perform this outpatient foot surgery under local anesthesia as either an open surgery or as a minimally invasive procedure with a smaller incision.

What Are The Reasons For A Cheilectomy?

Common factors associated with bone spurs of the big toe include:

  • Arthritis: A degenerative condition of the cartilage. Over time, the cartilage wears down, exposing the joint bone. Bone spurs can then form over these exposed areas.
  • Trauma: Such as stubbing or spraining your toe.
  • Repetitively pounding your foot, such as during sports, can lead to small bone fractures and joint inflammation. A condition described as turf toe can develop. Eventually, these issues can cause the growth of bone spurs around the injured toe.


A consequence of arthritis in the big toe, Hallux rigidus, often preceded by hallux limitus, a lesser form of arthritis in the big toe where the joint stays somewhat stiff, but not as painful as with hallux rigidus.

Often, before considering a cheilectomy, patients can manage the pain and inflammation of hallux limitus and hallux rigidus by applying alternating heat and ice, taking anti-inflammatory medication, and/or wearing orthotic shoes. When these measures do not work, you may discuss surgery with your Foot and Ankle Specialist.