People still fondly recall the resolve of England during World War II in keeping a “stiff upper lip,” but while “stiffness” can mean perseverance in one respect, stiffness elsewhere can be impeding and debilitating. When stiffness in the big toe, known as hallux rigidus, becomes too severe, toe surgery may become the best way to carry on.
It is almost always best to attempt nonsurgical treatments to manage the discomfort and progression of toe stiffness, and it can even be possible that medications, therapies, and/or orthotics can be effective enough to keep the condition from worsening. When they don’t, however, surgical options will depend on the specific case and its severity.
When damage from hallux rigidus is milder, a portion of the foot bone can be removed in a procedure known as a cheilectomy. This allows the toe more room for motion and involves making an incision on top of the foot.
When damage to the joint is severe, arthrodesis may be performed instead. This fuses the bones together and will mostly eliminate flexibility, but it is one of the better ways to relieve pain.
Arthroplasty is a third option. This completely replaces the joint and is reserved more for patients who do not have high demands on their feet.
Recovery from toe surgery will depend on the procedure performed, but one can expect to have to wear a cast or certain kind of shoe for at least two weeks, with full recovery taking up to a few months.If you suffer from a stiff toe, getting it addressed sooner will likely keep many more options open for treatment. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Sanjay Patel at Family Foot Care & Surgery and we will be happy to provide a full examination and discuss which options are available to you for finding relief. You can reach either of our area offices at (203) 876-7736 in Milford or (23) 288-4055 in Hamden.