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Functional Hallux Limitus or Rigidus Caused by a Tenodesis Effect at the Retrotalar Pulley

Description of the Functional Stretch Test and the Simple Hoover Cord Maneuver That Releases This Tenodesis

Jacques Vallotton Swiss Ortho Clinic, Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Santiago Echeverri Swiss Ortho Clinic, Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Vinciane Dobbelaere-Nicolas Swiss Ortho Clinic, Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Functional hallux limitus is a loss of metatarsophalangeal joint extension during the second half of the single-support phase, when the weightbearing foot is in maximal dorsiflexion. Functionally, it constitutes a sagittal plane blockade during gait. As a result, the mechanical support and stability mechanisms of the foot are disrupted, with important consequences during gait. Functional hallux limitus is a frequent, though relatively unknown condition that clinicians may overlook when examining patients with complaints that are not limited to their feet, for they can also present other symptoms such as hip, knee and lower-back pain. The purpose of this article is to present a critical review of the literature on functional hallux limitus and to explain a previously described and simple diagnostic test (flexor hallucis longus stretch test) and a physiotherapeutic manipulation (the Hoover cord maneuver) that recovers the dorsiflexion of the hallux releasing the tenodesis effect at the retrotalar pulley, which according to our clinical experience is the main cause of functional hallux limitus. The latter, to the best of our knowledge, has never been described before. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 100(3): 220–229, 2010)

Corresponding author: Jacques Vallotton, MD, Swiss Ortho Clinic, Av du Servan 4, 1006 Lausanne, Switzerland. (E-mail: drvallotton@swissorthoclinic.ch)