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Fused big toe joint and want to return to tennis!

This is my third surgery for the same issue...the first doctor tried an implant, didn't work...second doctor took bone from my hip and fused the joint, then put a steel plate on top and used about 6 screws to hold everything together. I broke all of his handiwork a year later and had to have the same surgery again. The only change this time was adding one more screw, bone from my tibia, and titanium plate (thicker this time). I'm in my early 40's and it's killing me to think I won't play tennis again although I don't relish going through this surgery again. The doctor suggested modifying my tennis shoe by putting a steel shank in it but would not guarantee this would do the trick. Do you have any other suggestions?

I have a problem with the idea that you had an implant at such a young age, but that is water under the bridge.
Obviously you can no longer bend your toe, so your only chance of ever doing anything athletic again would be to use a rigid shoe where there is very limited bend in the shoe.
Unfortunetly this will change your gait and whether or not you can adapt to a sport like tennis remains to be seen.
As a side note, you might want to look at the MBT athletic shoe which has a rocker bottom sole which diminishes the need for the big toe to bend. My only concern is whether or not you can actually play tennis in them.
Marc Mitnick DPM

Comments for Fused big toe joint and want to return to tennis!

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Aug 06, 2017
It Worked for Me
by: Linda

Who was your doctor? Thanks Linda

Jul 22, 2011
It worked for me.
by: Anonymous

I had a titanium hemi put in my left big toe due to total loss of cartilage and a bone spur. I couldn't raise my foot at all and had to stop all sports. I am 53 and decided to go with the replacement. It's been 3 weeks today and it has been amazing! My doctor has done many replacements, is on all sorts of board of directors for this surgery and trains other doctors from all over the world in this procedure. I am walking, bending my toe, have very little swelling and am totally amazed at how well it is healing and the limited scaring due to a continuous stitch. I think it all depends on your doctor and how much knowledge he or she may have in this field. My doctor has done hundreds of these surgerys. I did my research before I attempted this. Glad I did.

Feb 27, 2011
related experience
by: Steve Mitcham

Hi, I sympathise greatly having similar experience but not as bad as you. I had a cheilectomy 21 months ago at the age of 53. I understood this would improve my stiff, painful big toe (which originated from a football injury 20 years ago).

It is the worst decision ever - since the op my toe has been much more painful, with a lot of friction and crepitus and the sesamoids and ball of my foot tender and sensitive - they were not before the op. I too love tennis but have to dose up on pain killers yet it still hurts and greatly inhibits my movement and footwork which used to be my strengths.

I'm afraid a replacement joint would not stand up to the way I play or want to. I've heard of other procedures involving substitute cartilage etc. but they seem remote like some stem cell stuff - hyped up for headlines but not available to normal people of modest income.

Jan 15, 2011
titanium toe hemi joint replacement
by: Anonymous

I had this surgery done 3 years ago in January and I still can't walk around the track more then 2 times without limping in pain. Now my knee is killing me because my gait is off, the rest of my toes on that foot are getting numb from walking on the side of my foot and my neck and shoulder are out of whack on the other side of my body! I am at a loss. If you completely isolate that toe and don't bend it eventually it will become more painful because all of your tendons in your leg shorten up throwing the rest of your body out of kilter. I don't know who to trust to get this fixed - I've already trusted one doctor that promised that at the very least the pain would be gone in my toe. Chronic pain is horrible.

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