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When Foot Surgery Goes Wrong

Toe Joint Resurfacing Procedure

Press/ Media


Joint resurfacing for bunions and painful arthritis of the big toe joint.

Painful arthritis of the big toe joint will cause stiffness and thickening of the joint. In the past the surgical options for this condition have been limited with fusion of the joint being the most commonly performed operation. But no one wants a stiff big toe anymore than they want a stiff hip joint or knee.

X-Ray of fused joint

Joint resurfacing has changed everything in the management of arthritis of the big toe joint. Now instead of the joint being simply cut out leaving a short floppy toe or fused with screws, a synthetic cartilage replacement can be placed over the joint surface restoring a pain free range of motion to the joint.

The operation

This operation takes 20 minutes to perform and also takes away the bony thickening of the joint so shoes no longer press on the tender bump on the top of  the joint. After the operation we ask you to start performing simple exercises with the big toe but it is important that you rest for 2 weeks after the operation to allow the wound to heal and minimise swelling. After 2 weeks we want you to start mobilising again but you may find  normal work difficult for 4 weeks and running sports difficult for up to 2 months after the operation.   

The cost of the procedure

The operation costs £3200 which includes the synthetic cartilage which costs over £1200.

What are the downsides of the joint resurfacing operation.

Because we are dealing with arthritis of the joint the arthritis can sometimes be so advanced that the joint remains painful after resurfacing. This is a rare complication because usually we are able to predict from xrays which joints are too arthritic for resurfacing. If this happens however the beauty of the joint resurfacing is that it does not burn any bridges and we can still perform all the other traditional operations for the complaint after removing the cartilage replacement.

Otherwise like any foot operation there is a small roughly 1% risk of infection. Deep vein thrombosis less than 0.5% and increased stiffness of the joint due to scarring within the joint.

What the patients say. Please click to view a slideshow of patient comments

The Operation

Please click here for a video of the actual procedure.