If you have acute arthritis in their toe joints, surgery is one of the alternatives that are only real to relieve persistent pain. Fusion is a final resort. Surgeons finally have a new option keep patients and to ease pain.
Logan Snyder was a standout high school athlete, getting a college softball scholarship and racking up awards. Nevertheless, pain in her toes became excruciating.
"Anytime that I'd put weight on my toes, when they would bend back is when it would damage, which will be pretty much constantly," she said.
Doctors performed multiple operations from what is called a stiff big toe, Hallux Rigidis to alleviate pressure. Victor Prisk, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh, said, "We see it a lot in folks who are on the front of their toes, whether it is dance, whether it is gymnastics, whether it's running."
Dr. Prisk understood that fusing the joint would remove the pain, but would also limit motion. He recommended a just-approved flexible toe joint implant called Cartiva.
"It's made up of a stuff called polyvinyl alcohol. It's very similar to the material that will be used to make contact lenses," he clarified.
Doctors open the very top of the toe up showing the head of the joint, then the implant is inserted by them.
Dr. Prisk said, "It almost acts like a fender in your joint. Just like your cartilage would.
Logan felt the difference when she started moving her big toe. "The change is that I can feel how far back it might get. It is crazy in comparison with other operations," she said.
Last year, pain forced her to stop softball. Now she is working to return in shape without pain.
Last July the FDA approved Cartiva. Dr. Prisk said it's advocated for patients who don't have gout or severe toe deformities. Join discussions on the topic at knee pain forum.