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The hallux, commonly known as the big toe, plays a fundamental role in the biomechanics and stability of human gait. Correct functionality is essential for efficient and pain-free locomotion. However, various pathologies can alter its structure and function, causing not only local discomfort but also repercussions in the posture and general mobility of the individual.

Biomechanical function of the hallux

The hallux bears the most significant loads during the propulsive phase of gait, acting as a fundamental fulcrum for body displacement. Proper alignment and mobility are crucial to optimally distribute forces throughout the foot and the rest of the musculoskeletal system.

Common Hallux Pathologies

Hallux Valgus

Hallux valgus is characterized by a lateral deviation of the big toe, which can lead to the formation of a bony prominence, known as a “bunionette”. This alteration not only affects the aesthetics of the foot but can also cause pain, inflammation and a significant decrease in the functionality of the hallux.

Hallux rigidus

Hallux rigidus refers to stiffness of the big toe, usually caused by metatarsophalangeal osteoarthritis. This condition limits the mobility of the toe, making daily activities such as walking or running difficult and may result in a compensatory change in gait mechanics.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Early detection of hallux pathologies is crucial for effective treatment. Diagnosis is made by a detailed clinical evaluation and, in some cases, is complemented by imaging studies such as X-rays.

Treatment Options

Therapeutic interventions vary according to the severity and type of pathology. Options include:

  • Shoe modifications: Use of shoes with sufficient toe room and adequate arch support.
  • Orthoses: Customized devices that help correct hallux alignment and distribute loads more evenly.
  • Physiotherapy: Specific exercises to strengthen the musculature of the foot and improve the mobility of the big toe.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgical procedures may be necessary to correct the deformity and restore hallux functionality.

Prevention and Care

Prevention plays a crucial role in the management of hallux pathologies. Simple measures such as choosing appropriate footwear, maintaining a healthy weight and performing specific foot exercises can minimize the risk of developing these conditions.

Conclusion

The hallux is an essential component in the biomechanics of the foot and, therefore, in the overall mobility of the individual. Understanding their function and possible associated pathologies is essential to maintain an optimal quality of life. Early intervention and a multidisciplinary approach are key to the effective management of hallux disorders.

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