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Old 03-21-2009, 08:32 AM   #1
elldee elldee is offline
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If you have had your big toe fused, please respond

I would be very grateful to hear from people who are post-recovery from having their toe fused.

Here's my story - if you've had toe fusion I'm sure you've been through this.

Hallus limitus developed 4 years ago ( I am 38 years old). Orthotics, anti-inflammatories, reduced activity, rocker shoes all tried with no great success. Had a simple chielectomy 8 months ago. Surgeon said 25% bone on bone and I would need more surgery in 2-5 years, but he was hoping for reduction in pain and more movement. Unfortunately, I did not get more movement and while the horrible grinding and snapping decreased after surgery and the large bump was reduced, the pain on bending and pushoff was just as bad.

Since surgery, I have had all shoes modified with steel shanks and rocker soles. Depending on the day, these allow me to get around, but I am so concerned, consciously and unconsciously, with keeping that toe from bending that I protect it by walking with my foot more to the inside, walking on the outside of my foot and walking with the top of my body thrown forward (to try and keep the toe from bending.) Compensating like this is now causing pain on the inside of my knee, the opposing shoulder, my back, and my hamstrings. And my foot still hurts of course. The grinding is back and bone is being laid down around the joint again, which means my shoes are pressing on the outside of the joint too.

The surgeon now says fusion, although he ususally reserves this for patients in their 60's - that's a way off for me and I really fear for the joints in the rest of my body if I have to keep compensating like this.

Recovery from chielectomy was exceedingly painful (even the surgeon was surprised at the level of pain) and I am admit I am terrified by the pain after toe fusion. I will ask to be admitted to hospital overnight, rather than being sent home that day this time. I also realize I will be on my butt for 3-6 weeks and on crutches for months. But because of the wear and tear the rest of my body is now experiencing, I am prepared to suck it up and go through the recovery, if it would give me my life back.

My question is - what is life life AFTER the year of recovery. I understand my gait will be altered because the joint won't bend, but I am thinking that it is altered now anyway trying to protect the toe, but at least the joint pain will be gone? I walk with a limp now anyway and tense all muscles all day to protect the toe (which is exhausting). I also have muscle spasms in my buttock, back and thigh muscles, all from trying to protect the toe. I find myself using my knees to turn in my kitchen to avoid stepping on my foot (and knees were of course not meant to turn). I am also concerned that taking large does of Naproxyn just to get by is not good long-term for one's kidneys and liver.

What it is like to walk after fusion? I know my days of jogging are done, so are the days of wearing any sort of fashionable footwear. I am 38 years old and was very active. Now even walking my dog or vacuuming is a big deal. I walk very slowly because of the fear of shooting pain if I mis-step or put too much pressue on my foot. I am prepared for a life of wearing modified shoes, if I could resume walking, low-difficulty hiking, being able to make my way to a beach etc.

I would like to hear if I can expect an improved quality of life with the toe fused. Yes, all medical professionals have said "hang on to your joint as long as you can". I have tried my best, but I find being in pain all the time (both in the toe, but also generally aching everywhere else from working so hard to protect the toe) is depressing and making me quite snarly and withdrawn.

I live alone and am also quite terrified of being helpless for months during recovery, so any encouraging tips on the recovery process appreciated too. I will hire someone to cut the grass and walk the dog. I'm sure my friends will bring groceries from time to time, but unfortunatley, I will mostly be recovering from this alone.

I would genuinely appreciate any time you could spare to respond if you have had your toe fused.