BACKGROUND: Hallux valgus and hallux rigidus are common foot conditions that lead to a deterioration in health status. Patients with significant pain or deformity from these conditions frequently resort to surgery. In this project, the foot health status of patients with hallux valgus and hallux rigidus presenting to foot surgeons in Australia was compared. METHODS: Foot health status was measured in 120 participants using the Foot Health Status Questionnaire (FHSQ), a validated 0 - 100 point health status instrument. All participants had presented for surgical advice regarding hallux valgus/rigidus. The mean age of participants was 48.0 years (SD +/- 14.3, range 19 - 79). RESULTS: In the sample, 68% of participants were diagnosed with hallux valgus and 32% with hallux rigidus. Participants with hallux rigidus had greater levels of pain and functional limitation compared with hallux valgus. The mean difference for pain was 13.8 points (95% CI 4.6 to 22.9) and the mean difference for function was 15.0 points (95% CI 5.3 to 24.7). Both conditions result in similarly negative levels of impact on shoe fit and overall foot health. CONCLUSION: This study found measurable differences in foot health status between hallux valgus and hallux rigidus in participants presenting for surgical consultation. While both appear to have a negative impact on health status, hallux rigidus has a more significant impact.