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Degenerative joint disease (arthritis) often occurs in the joint of a big toe. This bone growth may cause pain and stiffness in the joint. Left untreated, arthritis can break down the cartilage and destroy the joint. Your treatment options depend on how damaged your joint is. There are many non-surgical treatments, but if these are not helpful, surgery may be considered.
This is done when the arthritic joint and cartilage can be saved. A bone spur caused by arthritis may be symptomatic on the top of the big toe joint. The procedure involves removing this bone spur, usually with a small part of the top of the joint itself. You will need to wear a surgical shoe for several weeks. Once the foot heals, joint movement is restored.
In fusion, the cartilage and some bone on both sides of the joint are removed. Then, the big toe and metatarsal bones are held together with staples, screws, or a plate and screws. Your foot may be placed in a cast. While you heal, you will be asked not to bear weight on this foot. You may also need crutches for several weeks. Because the joint has been removed, your toe will be less flexible.
During surgery, bone growth caused by the arthritis is trimmed, and part of the joint is removed. A pin can be used to align the bones and to keep them from touching. The pin is removed after several weeks. In some cases, the entire joint may be replaced with an implant. You may have to wear a splint or a surgical shoe for several weeks. When healed, the bones become connected with scar tissue.
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