The main goal of this kind of surgery is to “decompress” the big toe knuckle (1st MPJ) due to jamming from early arthritis. This kind of arthritis is slowly progressive and is expected to slowly worsen throughout a person’s life. Over-pronatory (excessive lowering of the arch) foot positions add extra stress to the big toe joint and is known to accelerate the formation of these painful joint conditions. Orthotics (arch supports) can be very helpful in slowing the progression of big-toe arthritis (Hallux Rigidus) and are usually always recommended after surgery to continue to reduce joint stress.
Most foot deformity has an underlying genetic basis.
This type of surgery is done in an outpatient surgical facility with IV conscious sedation. Your surgeon will pick the most appropriate type of procedure based on a number of factors which include but are not limited to the age of the patient, overall health, the severity of joint destruction, and specific anatomic features of the joint/foot/toe.
Most corrections require implanted hardware to stabilize the correction (surgical grade pin, screw). These are often never required to be removed and are not a large enough quantity of metal to be detected at the airport.
A typical post-operative recovery will include crutches for 1-2 weeks, and then protected walking either in a post-op shoe or walking boot for 4-6 weeks. On average, most people are back to their full activity at the 12-week mark. There will be multiple x-rays taken to follow your healing progress during your post-operative course.
Swelling of the foot/toe is expected and can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months to fully resolve.
Activity after surgery will be limited. A stationary bike or swimming is typically safe after the sutures have been removed. Sutures are generally removed at the 2nd post-op visit, 10-14 days after the initial procedure. Impact-style activity like walking or running is usually not safe until the bones have mended with good strength, 6-12 weeks post-op.
Driving is allowed almost immediately if the surgery is LEFT-SIDED, and the car is an automatic. Driving for RIGHT-SIDED feet will take anywhere from 2-6 weeks, and will depend on the individual.
Appropriate expectations from having this type of surgery can include a longer “shelf-life” for the joint, less pain about the joint, and possibly better motion at the knuckle. This type of surgery does not “cure” the arthritis within the joint, but can be successful in “buying more time” before joint replacement or fusion surgery is needed.