I am 51. I ski, run, bike, do taekwondo, tennis etc. Intensive physical sports are a big part of my life. I have had pain in both of my toe joints that started about 3 years ago. Extensive walking caused the most immediate pain. Running was less but I was usually sore the next day after running. The pain was very variable day to day and week to week but definitely became more frequent and more severe year to year. I was limited in the movement in my toe joints from probably 45 degrees 3 years ago to 25-30 degrees this year. One year ago I visited an experienced podiatrist. He diagnosed stage III hallux limitus (the podiatrist term) and said that I should do an osteomety and a fusion of the bone to the bottom of the metatarsal since I had a misaligned bone structure. Recovery started with 6 weeks in a cast. Doing both toes at the same time would require a wheelchair. Then visited a physical therapist who prescribed hot and cold water baths and exercises to increase range of motion but he consulted with podiatrist and felt that I had a more severe condition but suggested that I also visit the orthopedic surgeon near me who specializes only in foot and ankle. He said that I had stage II hallux rigidus (orthopedic surgeon term) and recommended cheilectomy. He also asked whether I wanted to go ahead though since my range of motion was pretty good in his experience. He gave me a 2006 study done by Boise, Id orthopedic surgeon that did long term followup on 100+ cheilectomies and reported good to excellent outcomes averaging 8 years out in 90+% of patients.
Based upon horror stories on this board and elsewhere, I then did Bikram (hot) yoga more intensively and eliminated the pain. I believe this was due to anti-inflammatory effect of hot yoga practice. However the pain returned over time and was worse this year.
4 days ago I did bilateral (both toes) cheilectomy with orthopedic surgeon. Surgery at 11:30 under general anesthetic. I walked out in surgical boots at 1:30. I was religious about keeping feet very elevated and icing for 48 hours. First night I needed hydrocodone plus ibuprofen (I would not take vicoden due to liver issues with combined tylenol) but slept mostly through night. After 48 hours just occasional ibuprofen, no narcotics. No pain at all when not on my feet. Walked around the house. On third day very mobile around town in surgical boots. Today (fourth day) walking throughout the day but slowly. Had bandages changed, surgeon said I could wear regular shoes so I could one size bigger to accomodate bandage. Minimal swelling in feet. Walking much better.
I was instructed to do range of motion exercises starting at day 2. Now have 70 degrees in each toe from 25 degrees before . Still a little painful on walking when bending toe but getting much better every day. Stitches scheduled to be removed on day 9 from surgery.
Surgeon is concerned that I had approx 30% of the joint surface on both toes with no cartilage so he thinks I will not be pain free for as long as he otherwise was hoping. Noone knows whether this will be 5,10 or 20 years. Next step if unacceptable pain returns is arthrodesis (joint fusion) which still leaves you able to do many activities.
So far I am pleasantly surprised with ease of recovery.