| | hallux rigidus surgery
I could use some input from people who have gone through a similar decision-making process on whether to go ahead with surgery. About a year ago while playing basketball I experienced trauma to my left big toe. A large person came down hard on my toe (wish I'd been wearing steel toe boots). It was very painful for a short period, but it didn't feel like it was broken, and I continued playing. Later that night I found I could not walk without a lot of pain. In the week that followed the pain diminished quite dramatically and I soon returned to running and playing basketball. However, I started feeling pain in the toe area in the morning that would gradually diminish throughout the day. It was not dramatically impacting my life at this point. I continued running and playing basketball. The blood circulation promoted by these activities seemed to loosen up the joint and the foot actually felt better following vigorous activity. During a regular checkup with my doctor, I told him about the toe issue, he said it looked like arthritis and gave me some Voltaren gel. That was last June. The pain seemed to intensify when the weather got colder in December, but it was still manageable--mainly pain in the morning and diminishing during the day. Still, I thought it best to see a podiatrist to make sure I wasn't doing damage by continuing to run and play basketball. I have now seen two podiatrists, both of whom say that the joint is badly arthritic with little range of motion. The x-rays show evidence of trauma, causing a bone spur, bone fragments, and damage to cartilage tissue. They both say that there is no remedy other than surgery, but this can be delayed as long as I can tolerate the pain. They both say that continuing to run and play basketball will not make any future surgery any more difficult, so encourage me to do whatever I'm able to do.
Naturally, I would like to get rid of the morning pain without drugs, but my main fear about surgery is the unintended consequence of making the problem worse. I have read a number of stories of people going through this type of surgery (cheilotomy?), not the fusion surgery, and some say they would never go through it again because the results were very minimal relief, no relief, or even having their condition worsen. I know there is always a risk with any surgery, but foot surgeries seem to be more unpredictable than other types of surgery and this makes the decision that much harder.
Any comments are appreciated.