Hi folks. Reaching out to anyone who is a few months post fusion surgery of the big toe. I am now two week post surgery The surgery went well, I have two screws in there to promote a successful fusion. Would love to chat with someone about the sensations, circulation, etc. Will I ever be able to forget that I have a toe at the end of my foot? I welcome any sharing. Thanks.
I had my fusion done on 20 Nov 2008. The operation went very well, as apart from my RA, I am quite healthy person. I was on pain killers for 2 days only.
In addition to fusion of the big toe, my operation also involved osteotomies of all lesser toes in order to straighed and re-align them (the surgeon used K-wires). For fusion, my surgeon used 2 screws.
I was in the cast NWB for 6 weeks, then PWB on the heel; I was using crutches and was wearing a post-op shoe for another 8 weeks; I went back to work at 7 weeks post-op (one week after my cast was off).
Some nerves on my foot were damaged a bit during the operation, therefore I still do not have feeling in some parts on my toes. Now, at 4 and half months post -op the incisions scars look pretty big, they are purple colour.
I still do not have a confirmed 'solid' fusion, unfortunately. My big toe is still swallen, escpecially in the evenings; I have a dull pain at the base of the big toe, the pain is like a heavy metal ring is placed around the base of the toe.
I am still using one crutch, when in public places. I cannot call my gait a 'gait' at all, as it is not a gait but rather a bad limping. I hope it will improve one day.
If you have any questions, please ask. I am happy to share my experience,though I cannot say that at the moment it is a 100% positive experience...
Thanks so much for responding to me. Sounds like you had alot done to your foot. Now at over 4 months after your operation, has your doctor recommended Physical Therapy? I would hope that this would help with your challenges with gait and balance. When we have injuries, arthritis, pain, etc,the body will do what it needs to inorder to adapt and cope. Sometimes this means it creates new issues.
I hear from others including my doctor that recovery really takes 6 months to a year. I asked my doc when I might expect to see my operated on big toe look like the other one. He said "about a year". I wonder if your doctor knew that there was nerve damage at the time of the operation, or is this something that only comes to light with time. This concerns me as well. I have that same sensation that you describe as a band squeezing at the base of the toe, but mine for now feels that way across the whole toe. May be too soon for me to feel relief from this. I hope you get relief soon.
Unlike you, I was not put in a cast. My foot was wrapped in bandages and an ace bandage for the first two weeks. I would use the special shoe when I got out of bed. That was removed and now all I am to wear is a sock and the shoe when I am on the move. This gives me the freedom to exercise my foot and ankle while in a chair or on the bed. I am determined to maintain as much freedom of motion as I can from this "whole bag of potatoes".
I wish you all the best with this. Sometimes I wish that I hadn't done anything...but when I remember the pain and difficulty I lived with every moment of every day before the operation, I remind myself of the benefits and am determined to return to a healthy dispostion. One where my body does not take center stage. I would love to forget that I have feet. Let's stay in touch and I hope that a few months down the road you will be able to tell me that things have gotten even better for you.
I had big toe fusion last May 9th. Unfortunately my toe did not union and I'm going in again in May to have the surgery done again. I'm pretty bummed out about the whole procedure. This time I have to have a small piece of bone taken from my hip so the toe bone can be extended. I'm praying it works this time.
I came out of my boot about 4 months after the surgery last year. However the first time I walked in my tennis shoes the fusion failed. After about 4 days of swelling and pain, the foot felt fine. A MRI revealed that even though I was walking okay the bones did not union. We scheduled surgery for October 2008 and a couple of weeks before the surgery I was playing golf. But once again I did too much walking and the foot began to swell and hurt. We then scheduled surgery again for the 2nd week of December. Once again, no pain and swelling for the 3 week interval. My doctor says he won't operate unless there's pain, so we cancelled again.
We took the grandkids on Spring Break in March and I once again re-injured the foot. This time I'm going to go through with the surgery even though the pain and swelling is gone. I can't live the rest of my life with the uncertainty of when the condition is going to occur. Doc says I may need a external fixator this time to hold the bone in place tightly until the fusion takes place. Trouble I'm having is believing it's going to work this time.
My gait is also off. My husband says I shove him off the sidewalk when we're walking. I have stumbled into things and get the most horrific bruises on my legs, but I think it's because there's no stability in that toe. Hoping for a better ending this time.
Last edited by jmlm4245; 04-07-2009 at 12:45 PM.
Reason: misspelled word
I too have a feeling of a tight band around my toe, however the nerve pain seems to be in the tip of my 2nd toe. I have asked the doctor to clip that nerve when he's doing the big toe surgery. I'd rather not feel anything than to have that nerve pain. He's been injecting it with alcohol for about 2 months. It's supposed to kill the nerve. It hasn't.
Most people just can't concieve how this small piece of bone, wrapped in
tissue and skin at the base of our body can cause such pain and turmoil. I
am so sorry that your surgery has left you with so little peace and no
closure as yet. Thank you for sharing. It is important for me to know all
the possibilities. No real way to guard against what might happen, but it
helps to know that the process of healing is not as simple as some make it
What reason has your doctor given you for the lack of fusion? I know that
there may not be any one answer, but I am curious. What type of hardware
did he/she use to hold the fusion in place? Do you have osteoporosis by any
chance? Could taking extra calcium help the process of fusion? Sorry, I
don't mean to probe, only wonder if any of these things makes a difference.
Each foot tells its own story...like a fingerprint, we have footprints. My
feet have carried me around for 58 years...only hope they will do so for
another 30 plus.
Please let me know how it turns out for you. My thoughts are with you and
your foot.Thanks for writing and stay in touch.
I have one of the best doctors in Central Texas. I think he agonizes more on the outcome of the first surgery than I do. I'm 63 and have been a very active person all my life. I'm not sure what happened. I don't have osteoporosis, but I'm sure my bones are getting old. My big toe was causing a dislocation of the 2nd toe. Bunion surgery in my late 40's was probably botched up, in fact I know it was.
Both toes were broken in the current surgery. A pin was placed in the 2nd toe (which got me a teddy bear named pintoe) and a plate and screws in the big toe. The second toe fused properly, but the big toe didn't. POD said the success ratio was 97%. We then began the process of trying to stimulate bone with a machine I used for 30 minutes a day for 120 days. No fusion. I'm still thankful I had good insurance since the machine would have cost $4,000. and could not be rented. Seems no one wants to stick their foot into a machine where someone else's foot has been.
Anyway, I'm preparing myself for another round. I have too much to do and can't let my feet hinder me. Life is too short to set on the sidelines.
You will probably have excellent results and I even hate that my poor results might influence your recovery. Keep a positive attitude. I have, even through the pain. Even though I'm afraid of failure again, I'm going to think the best.
I'm going to a "tea party" 4/15. That's worth the pain.
I had fusion on the right Oct 2008 at Cleveland Clinic, and am having the left done April 17. After 10 years of foot pain, it was the best thing I ever did! My right foot is now my favorite body part. True, it no longer bends at the base joint, but I have no pain, can walk easily, even on a treadmill, and can wear ~2" heels - not for long though because the other foot hurts too much. Hopefully by summer, I can wear them much longer. I am a breast cancer survivor, so I have had surgeries much more serious that I recovered from much more quickly, but the 8 week recovery time for this surgery was well worth it for me. I armed myself with knitting projects, books, movies, and organized 20yrs of photos in albums I bought before the surgery.
Good luck in your decision.
So good to hear of your positive experience. I especially enjoy the possibility of my foot (the one that was operated on) becoming my favorite part of my body. Good luck with your next operation. Thanks for sharing.
[QUOTE=footfalls;3946712]Hi folks. Reaching out to anyone who is a few months post fusion surgery of the big toe. I am now two week post surgery The surgery went well, I have two screws in there to promote a successful fusion. Would love to chat with someone about the sensations, circulation, etc. Will I ever be able to forget that I have a toe at the end of my foot? I welcome any sharing. Thanks.
I had my right big toe fused on 03/20/09 - so will soon be 4 weeks into it. I have 2 screws and quite mobile as long as I wear my air cast and keep my foot up religiously. My pod doc said after every 15 min. to put the foot up to reduce swelling...this will increase healing time. I was told 8 wks. in the air cast ... the hardest thing for me is NO DRIVING!! I had severe arthritis and no cartilidge in that joint due to a previous injury that didnt heal (x-rays revealed a broken toe that healed badly and caused severe arthritis). I'm hoping this resolves pain in that foot and I'm able to walk and be active again.
I too had a right toe fused, but my was also with a hip graft so doc added 4 weeks to an 8 weeks nwb. Today is 10 weeks so i am anxious about the weight bearing time coming in 2 weeks. I'll tell you this seemed to go by somewhat quickly, but the closer i get to start walking again, the slower the time goes. Do as the doctor says and try not to do too much even tho you think you can. I finally gave up stressing about a dirty house or what thinking about what i CAN'T do and just decided to focus on icing and elevating. I too have missed driving and realizing how much you can't do when you rely on evil crutches. In 10 weeks i'll tell you i've only been out of the house maybe 8 times and 3 of those were to the doctor the others were to the store and church once and all i wanted to do is get home. I'm truely sick of the whole recovery and just want no pain and normalcy. I'd like to plan a vacation in the fall since we weren't able to make our usual spring time vacation, but i'm afraid of how long it'll be before pain free walking.
Oh to stop thinking about my feet!
Good luck to your recovery.
Wow that's rough having a graft too. Is that in place of screws? I went for my one month check today and x-rays show the bone is fusing on schedule! Yea! He said I can be out of this big boot (air cast) in 2 wks. and into an orthopedic shoe. It's amazing how much hope that has given me today when I thought I had another 4 wks. in this bigger boot. I have an additional problem of my other foot having plantar fasciitis (sp?) so it is incredibly sore since all the weight has been on that foot for 1 month...ugh...I am so tired of having sore feet! Not to mention all the compensating pain of back, hip, knee..but "this too shall pass". I've been out of the house probably more than I'm supposed to....and I usually pay for it later! It feels like all the blood has rushed to that foot and it can't wait to just be put up and stay there. (I call it my "elephant foot" at those times). I am still planning on vacation in the summer and we'll see how it goes. If I were you I'd plan for that vacation because it gives you something to look forward to, which promotes hope and a postiive outlook, which speeds healing!! Take care!
Good to hear from everyone. We each heal at a different rate but it is always good to get a new perspective on ways to cope and aide the healing process. My toe seems to be coming along fine at 4 weeks post surgery. In a few days I will be able to start walking on my heel. I am looking forward to this. I have been doing exercises, but it will be good to be able to touch ground with both heels. Our local Red cross has loaned us a lightweight wheelchair, (without the large side wheels). This has been great in my apartment and gives me a break from always using the crutches. I keep a back pack over the handles to keep those things I like to have close to me, and I rest my "bad"foot on top of my left ankle and wiz around by pulling myself along with my left heel. This works great and even better if I wear a sneaker on that foot. In another week I think I would be ready to do a bit of wheel chair racing on a track. I have been using this time to read some great books, watch movies, and learn all those things I normally resist learning on my computer. Wish me luck with this last one. I don't think all the time in the world will help me with understanding all the in's and out's of the word process programs and the internet. Anyway, I wish everyone the best. Stay well.
You asked if the graft was in place of screws. Yes and a plate. The reason for the graft is that i had surgery on this foot 2 years ago that left my toe shorter than it was, that was a bad deal and i was never pain free. The problem with the great toe being substantially shorter than the second toe, is that the second toe ends up taking all the pounding that the great toe used to do. So the new doc said if he took bone from my hip he could lengthen my toe to the normal size but it meant 12 weeks nwb instead of 8. Hopefully it all heals as scheduled and we'll all live happily ever after! I have dreams i'm running again!
Good luck with your recovery. Keep in touch.