Foot arthritis

Osteoarthritis in the foot is usually the result of some previous injury, such as breaking the toe.  It can also be the result of overuse - repetitive bending and stooping, for example.  It tends to affect people over 50 years of age, but can occur in those as young as 20.  Osteoarthritis can cause the big toe to become stiffened, swollen and painful, making walking difficult.  The most commonly performed surgery to correct this is debridement, cheilectomy or fusion.

Pain in and around your big toe joint can be present all the time, or just when you walk.  You will also feel pain when you pull your big toe up towards you.  The big toe may become so stiff that you cannot pull your big toe up at all.

The surgeon will examine your feet and manipulate the big toe to determine its range of motion.  X-rays will determine how much arthritis is present and evaluate any bone spurs or other abnormalities that may have formed.

Debridement

During arthroscopic surgery, the area around the diseased bone will be cleaned and any bone spurs and deformities will be removed.

Cheilectomy

This is a minor operation to remove the bony bump (an osteophyte or dorsal bunion) which develops as a result of the body’s attempt to heal the arthritis.  This bony bump or spur is carefully burred away to restore the bone to its normal shape.  This would normally resolve 60% to 70% of the pain and stiffness.

Fusion

The two joint surfaces which generated the pain are removed, and the cut edges placed next to each other in a position that allows the fused joint to rock, rather than flex as it normally does.

After debridement and cheilectomy, you can be walking almost immediately.  With fusion, however, it may be four weeks before you can put weight on the foot.

Consultants

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