Osteoarthritis is a disease that causes thinning of the cartilage in your joint. If you have osteoarthritis at the base of your big toe, it can cause the joint to become stiff and painful, making it difficult to stand, walk or run.

Implant surgery for osteoarthritis offers a less invasive treatment option than traditional fusion surgery. At OrthoBethesda, we have successfully used toe implant surgery to treat patients with osteoarthritis in the foot.

Here are some important facts to know about using implants for big toe joint surgery.

What Are Toe Implants?

A number of different toe implants are available to treat osteoarthritis. Some implants are synthetic cartilage used to replace the damaged surface of the cartilage at the base of the big toe. These implants have the same look and feel as natural cartilage. Toe joint replacements using synthetic cartilage have a relatively high success rate, and most patients report 100% pain relief.

A major advantage of toe implant surgery is that it improves motion at the joint of the big toe and makes it possible for patients with osteoarthritis to return to their athletic activities. Unlike fusion surgery, in which the joint of the big toe is essentially locked in place, toe implant surgery can reduce pain without limiting your ability to move your toe.

What’s Involved in Big Toe Joint Surgery?

During the surgery, a small incision is made at the top of the big toe. This allows the orthopedic surgeon to access the joint capsule and take out any bone spurs. Then, a small hole is created to attach the implant with a wire. After the implant is fixed, the toe is moved to ensure there’s a full range of motion before closing the incision.

This procedure may be performed in one day. The surgery is carried out with general anesthesia, and it takes a little less than one hour. Your surgeon will prescribe pain killers for you to take during recovery. You’ll need to wear post-operative footwear and have someone drive you home and provide care for you for the next two days.

Which Patients Do You Recommend for Implant Surgery for Osteoarthritis?

This procedure is usually prescribed for patients who have arthritis with pain from bone spurs. If the arthritis is minor or the deformities are serious, then the procedure isn’t recommended. Patients with serious deformities will be better treated with fusion surgery.

What Happens During Recovery From Big Toe Joint Surgery?

Patients will wear an orthopedic shoe for two weeks after the procedure. They’ll need to return for a follow-up appointment after two weeks. After the incision has healed, patients may begin stretching exercises with the help of a physical therapist. Once sensitivity around the incision has ceased, patients may start wearing their normal shoes. This usually takes about four weeks. After six weeks, most patients are able to increase their physical activity.

Learn More About Toe Implant Surgery and Osteoarthritis

Give us a call at OrthoBethesda today to speak to one of our specially trained orthopedic doctors. We offer patients the most suitable treatment plan for their condition after a thorough examination and diagnosis. We treat you like a family member, and we take time to explain all treatment options in a language you can easily understand.