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If you are suffering from stiffness in your big toe (hallux rigidus) and it does not respond to conservative treatment your consultant may recommend toe fusion.

What happens during toe fusion?

Toe fusion is usually performed under general anaesthetic. Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) in your toe near the painful joint. They will clean the two joint surfaces and fuse them together using screws.

Your foot will be heavily bandaged. You may be given nerve blocks during the surgery that will relieve pain for the first 12 hours. We will give you pain relief medication to take when the blocks wear off.

After toe fusion

Some patients go home the day of surgery. You many need to spend one night in hospital. Your toe joint will be stiff and quite sore and swollen. Continue taking your pain killers regularly.

A physiotherapist will help you to stand and begin moving around with crutches. You will be given a special shoe you can wear for 6 weeks. You should not put full weight on your operated foot for the first 2 weeks.

You will not be able to drive. Please arrange for someone to drive you home the day you are discharged.

You may be asked to return to the hospital after three days for your wound to be checked and the dressing reduced.

It is important to elevate your foot as much as possible in the first 48 hours after surgery. Swelling can continue for several months.

You will need to return to the hospital in 10-14 days to have your stitches removed and the wound checked. We will also take an x-ray to assess whether the bones in your foot are fusing correctly.

You may need to wear flat shoes as your toe joint will be stiff and inflexible.

It can take between three and six months before you feel able to resume light sports or exercise.

Be sure and discuss any return to work with your surgeon.

With any surgery there can be complications:

Specific complications of toe fusion:
  • Swelling
  • Continued pain
  • Failure of the bones to fuse

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

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