I have a quick question about what my doctor is calling a frozen toe. I had an Austin bunionectomy ten weeks ago and have since had two additional surgeries for both cellulitis and osteomyelitis. I am on week four of antibiotics for the bone infection and am now allowed to bear weight in a surgical shoe. Out of the ten weeks, I have been non-weight bearing for approximately five weeks. My doctor is not letting me start physical therapy until the infection is gone (which they will do MRIs and bone scans for in two weeks). I have no mobility in my big toe and he told me today that it was frozen. I remember him talking about this as a possible complication before surgery and he said if the toe froze that there would be no treatment for it and that activities such as running and tennis would be impossible. Is this true? I know that if surgery is an option to fix this he will not do it (and I will never have another elective surgery) as the two infections were caused by the original bunion surgery. Does anyone have any experience with this - can it be fixed and, if not, can you still be physically active. I am only 30 and had the surgery done to help improve my running and ability to participate in activities.
What does your Dr. mean by frozen, I understand why you cannot move it, but what caused it to freeze? Which joint is frozen? If it can be fixed why won't he fix it, is it because of the infections? Have you sought a second opinion?
If you big toe is frozen, your activity will be based on what position it is frozen in. My big toe had been fused where it meets the foot (about 15 weeks post-op). It is positioned as such an angle that I can do most anything I want (no high heels). Some of your ability will be based on your attitude, you may have to find ways to compensate.
Let us know how things progress. Best wishes -eko
"Every good has a better and every bad a worse."
I think by frozen he just means that the big toe is absolutely stuck - it won't bend up or down. The joint at the base of the big toe (sorry I'm blanking on the name) has extensive scar tissue and loss of bone from the three surgeries and the two infections. He said that some doctors say that there is no treatment for this while others suggest trying surgery to remove the scar tissue (but others just say that creates more scar tissue, so...?). However, because I've had both cellulitis and a bone infection from the original surgery he does not want to do an "elective" fourth surgery. I am very determined and stubborn and will still try to do activity once the bone infection is gone but because of the bone loss I am at risk for stress fractures. Aargh! I think he's saying that if I try to force the toe to move I could easily break it.
I have had a second opinion for the bone infection treatment. I will have another Indium scan done in two weeks and if the infection is still there then they will probably surgically remove the infection (and the bone). When I try to ask about future activities and something as "insignificant" (one doctor's word) as running they tell me to not worry about it at this point. That's easier said than done!
Sorry to go on for so long - this has been very frustrating and I'm fairly depressed and angry at this point. A simple bunion surgery has led to some pretty bad complications...doesn't seem to be the doctor's fault - just some really bad luck.
Anyway, thanks again for your response. It is nice to have feedback from people who have been through this.
I can relate to you frustration, I ended up with a fusion after my toe dislocated within two weeks of surgery. My Dr. tried to manipulate it back, but it dislocated again. I had to wait six months to have it fused (another story). Is there any chance of the bone strengthening? There is another person on the board who had a fusion, then had an infection from an ingrown toe nail. She sees her Dr. towards the end of the month but had to hold off on PT until the infection clear and the bone hardens again. Maybe it is a matter of time. I do wish you the best! -eko
"Every good has a better and every bad a worse."
You can get a fused toe from prolonged immobilization and the infection could have made it worse too. I understand your feeling on never having another elective surgery. I got osteomyelitis in my heel, talus, tib and fib post-op a ligament reconstruction and realignment of my heel. Two months later had to have the screw taken out and two debridement surgeries and bought myself a week in the hospital and also 6 weeks IV antibiotics (which I just got off). I had an indium scan and MRi before surgery, then they did the biopsies when they did the first debridement. I am missing the inside of my heel now from necrotic bone. Yet I am having surgery at the end of summer for a recurrent dislocation of my thumb... but will be on antibiotics to prevent infection. What kind of infection did you have? Staph, MRSA?? Just wondering. Good luck w/the fused toe. I am not ready to give up on my ankle.. I feel like i have worked to hard trying to get it to work right...
The bacteria is called Oerskovia Xanthineolytica...my podiatrist said he has never heard of it. The infectious disease doc had but said it is "rarely found in humans" and almost always comes from surgery and sharp wounds. Good luck with your ankle - it's nice to hear you sounding so positive about it. I needed to hear that. Thank you.