7 Months post cheilectomy surgery update
It has been a long time since I posted and wanted to provide an update.
I had the cheilectomy on the right great toe joint September 25, 2009. Here is the thread I began right after my surgery:
The big news for me is that I made a major recovery leap at close to the 6th month mark. I am now at about the 7th month point and there are indeed many moments (most, in fact) where I simply am not aware of having had the surgery. I faithfully do my exercises at least once a day. I have been able to gain a lot of range of motion on the plantar (downward) movement and the second toe joint that was not operated on but was terribly stiff after surgery now bends as well as it did before surgery. I can easily pick things up with my toes and curl toes downward without any problem. Dorsally I have about 45% flexion although I sometimes need a bit of massaging and mobilization to get it to the full bend. I cannot do everything and overdoing it does set me back the next day a bit but I notice that each time it is less and less. I have the feeling that the whole joint is just healing as it goes along, and it takes a LONG time. Most soft tissue traumas do take time to heal and this should be no exception.
The reason I am writing this is that at the 4th or 5th month mark I was convinced that the surgery was a bust and that I would either have to deal with pain my whole life or go right for fusion. I do not feel this way anymore. It is clear to me that, even without a "normal" range of dorsal motion, the overall picture is still a lot better than before surgery. I can do a lot and probably will continue to gain mobility and maybe even range of motion as time goes on. If I can just stay where I am but without pain I think I can handle it. There are few things I cannot do in my normal routine, including sports.
What has helped me is to be active, work the joint whenever I can (which honestly is rarely more than once a day for 30-40 minutes) and stay in comfortable shoes. Working the joint means a lot of deep massage at the joint in addition to pulling out and then pushing down and up to the point of discomfort as I try to extend beyond the range of motion. It is now harder and harder to "hurt" myself by doing this. It is no longer pain but more an ache that actually feels good, like a sore muscle.
Just wanted to let everyone know, especially those in an earlier stage who may be despairing. It can get better if you give yourself time and stick with your physical therapy, whether you do it with someone or on your own.