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Old 05-29-2009, 08:05 AM   #1
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Big toe fusion-lots of questions

Hello all, I have a pretty extensive history. I am very sad, angry, depressed, right now I don't know what to do. I feel like my life is over.

In aug 2007 I had my first surgery for a bunion. I did not have pain but was recommended by my doctor to have it done now, if I let it go much longer my recovery will be worse. Well my recovery was horrible anyway. I had the lapidus procedure done. After this my big toe was much shorter than my second, I could not bend my big toe very well at all. It did not bend down at all and up only a few degrees. And I felt like I was walking on a rock all the time.

I went forth to seek another opinion. This time by an orthopedic surgeron specializing in feet and ankles. Well she recommended more surgery. So I went ahead and had it done. She lengthened my first metatarsal, shorted my second toe, re-fused the metatarsal at the mid-foot (raising it up so I did not feel like I was walking on a rock), removed one sesamoid bone, and for some unknown reason did a heal osteotomy. Well I was horrible after this surgery, bending the toe was horrible, did not get any better, worse actually. I have developed arthritis in my big toe now, heel hurt like hell, still felt like I was walking on a rock, and my gait was way off.

So I did a LOT of internet searching and found what was called one of the best foot and ankle surgeons in the US. He was world know, traveled all over preforming surgeries and so forth. I went to see him. He again recommened more surgery. He said he really thought he could help me. I truely like this guy, he really seems to know what is going on. So he did surgery on April 17th, 2009. I am currently 8 weeks post op. He re-did the fusion again mid-foot, lifting it up more to remove that walking on rock feeling. He re-did my heel slide, putting it back to where it was. And said he got my toe moving again.

Well I am in a great deal of pain. In the beginning this doctor said about fusing the big toe joint, due to the arthritis. But then he changed his mind.

I still can not bend my big toe down at all, up only a few degrees. Worse than before. my heel hurts like crazy.

I am wondering if I should just let my surgeon go back in and fuse the big toe joint. I am miserable, my quality of life if just about zero. I am only 28 years old and want a normal life just like others my age.

Can somone please tell me what life is like after big toe fusion. I have a wonderful 4 year old daughter and want to be able to take her places and do things with her. I want to be able to take long walks, take her to amusement parks, take my yearly trips to NYC. I want to be able to exercise daily, run/jog, jump. All the normal things people do in life.

And most importantly I want to WALK NORMAL, NO LIMPING.

Is this possible. Can people give me an insist on what my life might be like afterwards. Please tell me how old you were when you got your fusion and what life has been like for you. I would like to hear good or bad.

Thank you so much, I just want my life back. I am only 28 and feel old as hell. Thanks again.

 
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Old 05-29-2009, 08:53 AM   #2
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

BUNIONPAIN, You sound like me. I had a bunionectomy on April 2008 and still not right. I feel EXACTLY like you do. Been to a ortho doc that my pod referred me to and he told me that removing the sesmoid doesn't always work. Had cortisone shots, they don't work. I am trying to see another foot and ankle ortho guy for his opinion and he is booked up until October. My quality of life is just about zero too. I live alone and am terrified of ending up in a nursing home. I was so active doing step aerobics, kick-boxing, walking all over. Now, I just get thru my day and go home and rest. I am 48 and feel like 90.

 
Old 05-29-2009, 09:49 AM   #3
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

Hello chubstercat, I wish I had NEVER had any surgery to begin with. Especially the second one. She messed me up more than anyone did. So please be careful with the surgeon you find, make sure you research and really trust them. What sort of problems are you having now?

I agree I am only 28 and feel 90. The worst part is my daughter is suffering. I am in so much pain when I come home, I want to be left alone.

I just don't know what to do. I hate that doctors can do this to people.

keep me posted on your progress.

 
Old 05-29-2009, 10:11 AM   #4
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

Well, the podiatrist said it is the tibial sesmoid. The ortho guy said it was the fibial sesmoid. He says he hasn't much success in removing them. He mentioned fusion, but couldn't guarantee it would take away the pain. MRI shows cartilage degeneration. I am trying to see another foot and ankle orth guy with more experience. Trouble is, he is booking in October! Best place around is in NYC, but that is kinda unrealistic. I am 200 miles away.

 
Old 05-29-2009, 08:05 PM   #5
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

hi bunion, who did you go see? it sounds like you had way too much surgery. you should not be in pain from big toe fusion.

 
Old 05-29-2009, 11:57 PM   #6
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

I'm waiting for an operation for fusion on my right big toe, I've been told it's a last resort operation but should get rid of all the pain I'm having from arthritis and hallidus rigidus (?) as I have no cartilege left. Two women at work have had a big toe fused and you'd never guess from the way they walk, they're pain-free too. I'm sorry you've had such bad results from your surgery, I suppose there are no guarantees with any surgery and you've been very unlucky.

 
Old 05-30-2009, 10:36 AM   #7
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

Hello and thank you for your responses. I HAVE BEEN VERY UNLUCKY you got that right. I just don't understand how things can go do wrong. I was supposse to be a simple bunion surgery, so they say. I am very depresses, sad, angry, I think all I do anymore is cry. All I can think about is feet.

HI Debbie, I know you are pretty much an expert on big toe fusion. My rirst surgery was done by a pod, the second was an orthopedic specializing in feet and ankles, and third was a ortho who specializes in feet and ankles also. I am still recovering from my last surgery. But it looks the same, toes sticking way up off the ground, incredible pain with moving the big toe. It is all the same, except since my heel was messed with a second time I know have a huge lump under my ankle. GO FIGURE.

Can you tell me what it is like to have big toe fusion. I am really leaning toward that since it still hurts. I am only 28 and hate to have this done so early in life, but hate to live in pain also.

I want to wake up in the morning-not thinking about feet.
Jump out of bed and not have shooting pains
Be able to take my four year old daughter on a long walk
Take her to amusement parks.
Wear decent shoes again-not even heels, just normal shoes.

Can you please tell what some of your experiences have been like.

What you life is like, do you walk normal?

I have read soooo many things on big toe fusion, and there is some very confusing info out there. Some say you can lead a completly normal life, where most shoes comfortably-even heels up to 2 inches. Others say your gait is affected and there is no way to walk normal therefore other structures are affected (knees, hips, back, ankles). It is just so confusing. Especially since I already had the other joint in the first metatarsal fused (midfoot). So does that make a difference in how I will walk when I am done with all of this.

Please just tell me how your life is after toe fusion. And also your ages, does anyone know someone who had a toe fusion as young as I am?
Can you take long walks
Spend a whole day at an amusement park and not be in complete pain
Can you walk normal,
Wear normal shoes
Wear heels even-although not totally important
How far does your toe stick up off the ground

Also any questions I should ask my doctor monday morning. Cause if I am going to do this I am doing it int he next week or so. I am still off work right nwo and I am not allowed to take anymore time off for about 3-4 years due to staffing. And I am not sure I can take the pain for that long.

So please give me as much info as possible PLEASE!!!

Has anyone heard of prolotherapy for big toe arthritis?
Thank you all again.

 
Old 05-30-2009, 02:06 PM   #8
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

fusion is the last resort. the fusion i had wont let me bend the big toe. it sticks up about 10-15 degrees and is angling inward. like i said before, its a very long recovery. evey fusion is different. i had o have fusion after a failed bunionectomy. nov. will be 3 years. after the fusion i was in a cast for 12 weeks and a walking boot for 4 weeks. i then went slowly into a wide gym shoe. i started on the bike and gradually did everything the dr allowed me to. i think the biggest problem is swelling. ice and elevation are key. as time went on, i was able to wear a compression sock and boy did that help. i gave up on shoes, but at the 1 year mark i found i was able to buy some cute ones. at the 2 year mar even more swelling went down and i am able to get into some of my old shoes. there were some i could not donate! i also had arthritis in the big toe. this fusion was done when i was 50 which i think is very young. i do everything i did before. i play tennis, snow ski and do every exercise possible-even jumping rope. i am a very active person and the only thing i dont like about this is not being able to wear cool shoes. i like dressing nice and wearing cool jeans so i do the best i can with finding shoes. just to let you know i am 5 ft tall and weigh 95lbs. i watch what i eat, but i work out constantly. i never thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel, but there was! when i was able to take the boot off and there was no pain, i knew i did the right thing. you have no choice. 1 last question, why did they work on your heel? i hope this helped you because 50 is the new 30! do it now before anything else happens. go see a pro sports foot and ankle specialist. love, debbie

 
Old 05-31-2009, 05:58 AM   #9
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

Hi debbie, thank you so much for your response. I don't know why they worked on my heel. The second doctor came in the surgery room, literally 20 minutes before they put me under and said she wanted to slide my heel over. I did not know anything about it until then, and thought well I trust her and she knows what she is doing. That was a HUGE mistake, cause she really screwed up my heel.

All the opinions I got after her (which was 5 from all over the place-balitimore, phili, camp hill, harrisburg, and york) all said that my heel was in the exact correct position before and her messing with it cause me to have most of the problems I am having now. The third doctor tried to move it back over, which he did but now it looks horrible. It is huge with a large lump under my ankle. And it hurts like hell.

I wish I could sue her or something, she has totally ruined my life. She is also the one who caused arthritis in my toe.

I am only 28, is that too young to have this done? I know it is, but I don't think I want to live with the pain. My foot is wide as it is, shoes have always been a problem since I have had bunions since I was 12. I have never worn a pair of flip flops (that was one thing I was looking forward with the first surgery). I can't wear heels now, so after the surgery won't be any different. All of my toes stick up off the floor, so that won't be any different.

Can I ask you a few more questions, I am sorry sorry to keep asking questions I am just soooooo confused. I go and see my doctor at 8am tomorrow (monday) morning.

Can you walk normal? Do you walk on the outside of you foot due to this? Does it affect the rest of your body (hips, back, knees, ect)?
Do you regret having it done, or waiting so long to have it done?
Can other people tell your foot is different just by looking at it?
Is it really hard to find shoes that fit, how wide is your foot? (mine is very wide now)
Can you take long walks? (I love taking my daughter to amusement parks and the aquarium and on very long walks) Could you go to an amusement park all day and walk around and not be in extreme pain? If you are in pain how much.
Can you go into most stores and find shoes that will fit? What size heel can you wear? How long can you wear them?

Thank you so much debbie for all your help, I am just so confused about all of this. I just wanted to have a normal foot, now I have ruined my life and my daughters. It is so depressing.

Thanks again, any advice from anyone would be greatly appreciated.

 
Old 05-31-2009, 07:35 AM   #10
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

Hi Bunionpain,

I am so very sorry for everything you have been through. I can relate to the questions you are asking about toe fusion because I myself was extremely nervous as well. I will give you some background on what I went through.

Since I can remember, and I want to say that my toe was this way since birth, I had a bunion. It was extremely severe and my big toe actually went under my second toe. Considering that I had that since birth, I was pretty used to it & it didn't hurt too badly but was def. becoming worse as I aged. At 20 years of age I went to an Orthop. Surgeon who came highly recommended. Right off that bat he suggested toe fusion; however, the recovery is a good 6 months. At that time I decided not to go for it, because I was unable to take that much time off. I want to say in Dec. of 2005 I had my first big toe fusion ( I was 22). I was on this board everyday! Post-op was difficult for me. I was young and annoyed that I was in a cast and then a boot for so long. The way they performed my surgery is that they put 2 pins in my toes; however, they were removable. So, after a certain amount of time, the doctor takes the pins out and then bone is supposed to heal where the screws come out. I was very careful with my foot because i was afraid something would go wrong and did not want to go through the process all over again. Well, after the 6 months, the doc. said I was okay and he sent me to physical therapy. Finding shoes was a pain, because of all of the swelling and of course, with your toe sticking up more, some shoes are not comfortable. A few months into PT and walking around I noticed my toe moving back over toward my 2nd toe. Now, this shouldn't really happen considering the mtp is fused, so I immediately went back to my doctor. My doctor said that it "appeared" the fusion did not really take. He said I could either live with it the way it was or we could do it again, this time with putting a screw into my toe. I was in pain and therefore decided to have another surgery.

With this surgery I was extra cautious because I was not going through it again. I saw my doctor more frequently and in the end this one took (thank goodness!). So all in all, about 2 years of my life was consumed by this. It takes a bit of time to get used to walking again because your gait is somewhat different than previously. I did go to PT again, but to a different person (the 1st person I went to did not know what she was doing....she was actually trying to get my big toe to bend after numerous attempts to tell her that it wasn't supposed to) and they really helped with strengthening my ankle and working on my balance. For me, my ankle strength was minimal after surgery because I really had my foot up and no movement for quite awhile.

I hope this didn't scare you, but fusion is a big deal. However, after all you have been through it will probably be a piece of cake! I am now 25 and lead an active life. I do wear heels (I love shoes, so that is probably that hardest part of this all now) and can wear them for the majority of the day, but it does feel good to take them off when I get home! On occasion, my toe will ache based on the weather because of the screw.

Now to more specifically answer your questions:
Can you walk normal? Do you walk on the outside of you foot due to this?
--I think I walk normal. It takes a little time to get used to walking again, but practice and make sure to put your heel down first and roll off your toes. At first, I was walking kind of "flat footed." I wasn't putting my heel down first or rolling off my toes.

Does it affect the rest of your body (hips, back, knees, ect)?
--To some extent, I think so. At times, my knees really hurt or my back hurts.

Do you regret having it done, or waiting so long to have it done?
---At times I regret having it done. However, if I would have waited longer, the problem would have gotten worse and the recovery would have been extremely difficult.

Can other people tell your foot is different just by looking at it?
---Well, your toe does stick up a bit so they probably could. If you are sitting with your feet up, such as on a recliner, I would say no.

Is it really hard to find shoes that fit, how wide is your foot? (mine is very wide now)
---Honestly, finding shoes takes some work especially at first! When you are able to begin wearing shoes again your foot will be swollen and you need to find shoes that have a "toe box" as my doc phrased it.

Can you take long walks? (I love taking my daughter to amusement parks and the aquarium and on very long walks) Could you go to an amusement park all day and walk around and not be in extreme pain? If you are in pain how much.
---I take long walks with my husband a lot and am not in pain.

Can you go into most stores and find shoes that will fit? What size heel can you wear? How long can you wear them?
---Finding shoes is tough. I want to say that I can wear 2- 2 1/2 inch heels. However, it all depends on the shoe. You really need to take time to find shoes that feel comfortable. Make sure to wear them around the store and get a good feel. I used to just put them on and be happy they fit. I would then get home and walk around in them and realize how uncomfortable they were.

I hope this helps! Debbie is a wonderful source of information and was there for me when I went through this as well!

--Hi Debbie!
Good luck!
Liz

 
Old 05-31-2009, 08:09 AM   #11
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

Thank you lizzy21 for your response. It is acutally nice to talk to someone as young as I am (well you are younger) that has been through this. I am just so worried that since I had all the other work done to my foot that in the end I will be much worse. or will walk worse with a stronger limp than I have now.

I am afraid having the other joint in my first metarsal fused with make a difference, along with my heel work.

This is such a tough decision to make. I have had three bad surgeries and have been very very unlucky. What would make this one different.

Thank you again for your response. I see my doctor tomorrow morning to discuss what my options are. Who knows what will happen.

I hope things will work out in the end and I can get my life back. And I want my daughter to have her life back, she has been put through the works with all this and does not deserve it.

Have a great day, thanks again.

 
Old 05-31-2009, 09:18 AM   #12
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

Have no fear. I had my right foot big toe fused about 6 years ago, and was able to play singles tennis with no problem at all. Last week, 9 days now, I had to have my left big toe joint fused, and am waiting to heal! I am confident that I will be back on the tennis court in late July.
Depends on the dr., mine is the best.
Good luck, it will be ok.

 
Old 05-31-2009, 09:30 AM   #13
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

hello and thank you szcbassoon for your response. In short of sounding stupid how do you know your doctor is the best. I have had three now and truely liked them all and trusted them. And at least the first two were no good. How do you know that a doctor is the best? I am not trying to sound rude, but what things should you look for in a doctor in determining if they are the best for the condition that needs help.

So far I trusted three and two were by far not any good. It just sucks.

How old are you szcbassoon? Did you walk normal after you surgery (I know you are completely normal now due to healing again)? Did you have any other surgery on you foot? Can you or could you take long walks without pain, spend a whole day on you foot without knowing you had the procedure done? I used to love going for long walks, taking my daughter do amusement parks, the aquarium, and spending days out running around. Is this going to be possible after fusion.

I wake up everyday thinking about feet, does that ever go away. All I worry about is my stupid feet. I look at my friends feet and they are just so perfect, why did I end up with feet that suck so bad.

Thank you all again for all you info, I really appreciate it. If anyone else some more to offer please let me know everything.

 
Old 05-31-2009, 09:41 AM   #14
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

Hi,
Good luck with you,....I orginally found my Dr. from friends who had used him, and his huge reputation at being just amazing.
I think the Dr. I used, is the best for me, as he was picked the Ct. top foot dr. of the year, and he successfully did my right foot 6 years ago, with no swelling, etc., I was back at the gym daily, and playing tennis, with no pain at all. So, for me he is the best. I am in my 40's had never had surgery of any kind before, just bad arthritis in big toe joints, after 20 years on the hard tennis courts. May 22nd, I had my other foot done, same procedure, same Dr. I saw my left foot post-op, last Thursday and there was no swelling, no black and blue looked perfect. This Thursday, the cast is coming off and I will be in a walking cast boot for 5 weeks. I am hopeful you too will find someone you can trust in. Good luck, and keep smiling.
Very best wishes,

 
Old 05-31-2009, 10:11 AM   #15
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Re: Big toe fusion-lots of questions

Thank you, I am too hopeful that things will turn out. I think I did find a great doctor in baltimore. Dr. Mark Myerson, from what I understand he is world known. So I hope he can help me and give me some good advice to base my decision on.

thanks again for all your help.

Anymore advice would be great. thanks.

 
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