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When conservative treatments do not resolve big toe stiffness (hallux rigidus) or when the joint is severely damaged your consultant may recommend toe joint replacement.

What happens during toe joint replacement?

Toe joint replacement is usually done under general anaesthetic. Most patients go home the day after surgery.

Your surgeon will make a small incision (cut) near your big toe joint. They will examine the current damage to the joint. Any bone spurs (lumps) will be shaved smooth. They will use a prosthesis (replacement components) made of metal or plastic to replace part or your entire toe joint. The choice of prosthesis and extent of your surgery will depend on your own situation. Be sure and discuss all the options with your consultant.

Your wound will be closed with stitches or staples. Your foot will be covered with a dressing. We will help you begin walking the day following your surgery. You will need to use crutches. You will be given a special shoe that makes it easier to avoid putting full weight on your new toe joint. A physiotherapist will visit you to show you exercises that will help you with range of motion.

Going home after toe joint replacement

You should avoid putting full weight on your foot until you are released to do so (6 – 8 weeks).  Take any pain medication you are given. Rest and elevate your foot for the first week.

After ten to fourteen days you will need to return to us to have your stitches or staples removed.

After 6 weeks you will see your consultant again and an x-ray will be taken to ensure the bone is growing correctly around your new implant. If this is the case, you will be allowed to increase weight bearing on your foot and gradually return to wearing normal shoes. You should continue with the exercises we gave you in hospital.

Most patients are able to return to light exercise at about 10 weeks. Swelling can continue for several months. With any surgery there can be complications including:

Specific complications may include:

  • Dislocation of the new joint
  • Failure of the bones to grow around implant
  • Nerve injury causing numbness
  • Continued pain

Why not print this treatment page out so that you can discuss any concerns with your consultant?

Wessex Hospital

Winchester Road, Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, SO53 2DW

02380 266 377

By car: our hospital is conveniently located just off Junction 12 of the M3 between Southampton and Winchester, with free parking available. Parking Eye is in operation at this site, please ensure you input your car registration on one of the portals at the main reception. By public transport: the nearest train station is Chandlers Ford - a 20-minute train journey from Southampton Central station. The 1 Bluestar bus, which serves Southampton, Chandlers Ford and Winchester, is just 5 minutes walk from the hospital.

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