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Leeds Hospital

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Hallux rigidus is stiffness and pain in the big toe joint while walking. It is usually caused by arthritis and can affect patients of all ages. Often patients lose the ability to lift their big toe upwards. Or the toe becomes so stiff that it cannot lie flat in your shoe.

A bony bump may form on the top of the toe joint causing further movement restriction and pain. Your consultant may try conservative treatment including such as prescribing pain relief or anti-inflammatory medication or steroid injections. If conservative treatment is not successful your consultant may recommend a cheilectomy.

What happens during a cheilectomy?

A cheilectomy can be performed under general or local anaesthetic. Your anaesthetist will discuss the method to be use with you prior to your surgery.

Your consultant will make an incision (cut) on the side of your big toe. They will remove the bony bump and flush out your big toe joint. Your surgical wound will be closed with stitches and dressings will be applied.

You may be given additional local anaesthetic for pain relief. You will also be given tablets for pain relief.

A cheilectomy is usually performed as a day case meaning you will be able to go home the day of your surgery.

Going home after cheilectomy

You will not be able to drive until approved to do so by your surgeon. Please arrange for someone to drive you home when you are discharged.

You will have a bulky dressing on your foot. You may also be given a special shoe to help you walk. You can put as much weight on your foot as is comfortable. For the first 7-10 days you should rest and elevate your foot as much as possible. Using an icepack wrapped in a tea towel may also help control pain and swelling. Take any pain relief medication as prescribed.

Between 10-14 days after your surgery you should see your GP to have your stitches removed. A lighter dressing will be applied.

Following removal of your stitches you can begin to increase your activity. Continue elevating your foot as necessary.

Be sure and discuss any return to work with your consultant. Most patients resume driving once lighter dressings are used and they are no longer taking prescribed pain medication.

As with any surgical procedure there can be complications including:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis- DVT)
Specific complications of cheilectomy may include:
  • Numbness on or near the surgical site
  • Continued swelling
  • Continued pain following surgery.