Treatment and Surgery
What is arthritis of the foot?
Arthritis may cause the big toe to lose movement and/or become stiff and painful. Typically, the cartilage between the joints erodes or wears out. With increased motion within the joints there is a gradual increase in the amount of erosion, resulting in greater damage to the joint. It becomes harder to bend the toe as the problem worsens. Swelling surrounding the joint may occur and stiffness around the big toe joint may make it difficult to participate in certain activities. Other symptoms include pain while at rest, limping or inability to wear certain shoes. The sooner you seek treatment for the condition, the better chance there is to remain comfortable and active for many years. However, the longer the condition is present, the greater likelihood there is that there will be damage within the joint and possible bone spur development.
What causes arthritis of the big toe joint?
An imbalance in foot structure and foot function, also known as biomechanics, may be one cause. In other cases, there may have been a traumatic incident such as a jammed toe that caused localized joint inflammation.
Those with flat feet or low arches are more susceptible to developing this deformity. Increased activities and motion within the joint may lead to arthritic changes. Heredity may also play a part in the condition’s development.
What is the treatment?
If the condition is diagnosed early on, nonsurgical treatment may include wearing different shoes, taking oral anti-inflammatory medication or using a special shoe to align the foot and allow proper motion. Many times you may have to stop doing certain activities to avoid surgery and prevent further joint damage.
If the condition is more severe, the only treatment to eliminate the pain and deformity may be surgery. If the joint is undamaged, the procedure may involve cleaning up and remodeling the joint to increase range of motion. When there is greater damage within the joint, the joint may not be able to be preserved and a joint implant may be needed to allow continued activity and range of motion. In severe cases, the joint may need to be fused. Recovery periods vary depending on the type of procedure performed.