There are various causes of big toe pain, but you can find a commonality in each one—these respective conditions can keep you from doing things you enjoy doing (along with others you simply have to do).
We can fully attest to this because patients just like you consistently tell us as much!
At Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida, we don’t want issues like this interfering with your life and limiting your options. Fortunately, our talented team of podiatrists has an array of both state-of-the-art and tried-and-true treatment options to help you overcome painful conditions.
When it comes to big toe pain specifically, a new option we are excited to offer you (or your loved ones) is the Cartiva® synthetic cartilage implant (SCI).
Why Cartiva® SCI could be right for you
While people experience pain in the big toe for many different reasons, one of the most common is osteoarthritis in the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint.
(Put more simply, we’re talking about arthritis in the joint at the base of your big toe.)
Many people aren’t aware of this, but there are actually more than 100 different forms of arthritis (and related diseases). Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent—and likely the one that comes to mind when you hear the word “arthritis.”
You can think of osteoarthritis as being the arthritic condition that develops as cartilage wears down over time. This leads to pain and inflammation as unprotected bones rub against each other.
If you think about how often you bend your big toe—and you do with every step—discomfort is a significant problem when it develops in the toe’s MTP joint.
And this is where Cartiva enters the picture.
The word “revolutionary” has become a bit of a cliché, but Cartiva is a revolutionary product because it does a remarkable job of addressing that very problem. Understanding how it does starts with knowing what it is:
Cartiva is a synthetic cartilage implant made from polyvinyl alcohol (a soft, plastic-like substance) and saline (salt water). When combined, these compounds create a solid, slippery, and durable material.
This material is then molded to become an implant we can use to replace damaged and/or worn-down cartilage in the MTP joint.
In doing so, we are able to give your bones protection and cushioning to relieve your pain.
That sounds amazing, but is it safe?
Cartiva was extensively researched and studied prior to its release. Part of this research included controlled clinical trials in hospitals in Canada and the United Kingdom for patients who had osteoarthritis in their first MTP joint—just like what you are experiencing.
Out of the pool of 202 participants, 152 were treated with Cartiva and 50 had fusion surgery.
Results of these studies have shown Cartiva to provide significant pain relief and maintained or improved function by a majority of participants at the two-year mark following treatment.
Additionally, the results of Cartiva treatment were compared to traditional joint fusion surgery, and a majority of participants with the implant either maintained or improved joint motion. Those who underwent fusion were unable to keep joint motion.
You can find further assurance of this product’s safety in the fact that the company’s study results have been reported to and reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—the federal agency charged with ensuring safety and efficacy for medications and medical equipment used in our country. Without FDA-approval, Cartiva would not be available.
(For information from the agency itself, you can visit www.fda.gov and search for Cartiva synthetic cartilage implants.)
This is a safe product—we wouldn’t offer it otherwise!—but of course there are certain risks or issues that could potentially develop.
We understand this might sound concerning, but it’s important to bear in mind the fact that even routine surgeries carry at least some risk for complications. That said, the likely upside of procedures and treatments make the risk factors (which are usually rather minimal) worth taking on.
Of course, we will discuss possible risks together prior to scheduling your appointment for this procedure.
All that being said, Cartiva SCI is not for everyone. There are a handful of considerations that might preclude someone from being a candidate for this treatment. Some of these include matters like having gout, existing infections, or certain allergies.
To learn if you’d be a good candidate for this advanced treatment, simply contact us and request a consultation with one of our doctors.
What if Cartiva isn’t right for me? Or what if my big toe pain isn’t caused by OA?
Sure, we are absolutely excited to offer you this new service, but our expert team will continue to provide exceptional care that can consist of many treatment options to help you overcome any of the numerous causes of foot pain.
In the event you have osteoarthritis in your big toe’s MTP joint but aren’t a candidate for Cartiva, there are an array of both conservative and surgical options we can use to treat the problem.
With regards to OA treatment, some of the possible elements your doctor may recommend or incorporate include:
- Exercise or physical therapy. We understand that it might seem counterintuitive to increase movement when stiff joints make it painful to move, but a proper exercise plan or physical therapy program can improve range of motion, flexibility, and muscle strength (so your muscles are better able to support the joint and relieve excess strain on it).
- Medication. When we prescribe or recommend specific medications, our doctors always factor in both the condition and the patient being treated. Depending on your particular case, you may need to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or analgesics (medications that address pain, but not inflammation). We might also use corticosteroid injections to help you find the relief you need.
- Custom orthotics. A pair of orthotic devices customized for your unique feet can be used to help take pressure away from specific areas featuring arthritic joints.
- Surgery. We generally reserve surgery for arthritic conditions that cause severe pain and/or take away normal foot function. Depending on a patient’s case, we may need to fuse bones together, replace the joint, or use a debridement procedure.
It’s also important to note that—even though it’s fairly common—osteoarthritis is not the only cause of big toe pain. Accordingly, Cartiva SCI isn’t going to be the answer if you suffer from something like gout, hallux rigidus, or a bunion.
Fortunately, we provide many patients from around Central Florida with the treatment they need to overcome issues like those—and we can do the same for you!
No matter the source of your big toe pain, our team will be happy to offer you an accurate diagnosis and customized, effective treatment plan to resolve it. To continue on your path to the relief you need, just call 407-339-7759 or 352-589-9550 (if calling from Lake County).If you’d prefer, you can also request your appointment with any of our five offices online right now.