Big toe joint fusion surgery

An operation for arthritic big toes

A procedure that helps alleviate pain by removing the arthritic toe joint and fusing the two big toe bones with metal

About joint fusion surgery to the big toe

Big toe fusion surgery is almost always carried out on people who have severe arthritis in the joint of their big toe. It can be an effective way of easing arthritic pain. It won't necessarily restore full flexibility to your toe but walking should be much easier and more comfortable.

Need to know

  • What happens during joint fusion surgery? icon plus

    Big toe joint fusion surgery is usually carried out under general anaesthetic, which means you'll be asleep for the procedure. Your surgeon will make a cut across the top of your big toe to remove the arthritic joint and any lumps of bone around the joint.

    They'll also re-position the bones that the joint connects — the phalanx and metatarsal. The bones are then fixed together with metal screws or a metal screw and plate. The cut in your toe will be closed with dissolvable stitches.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you and answer any questions you may have. If you're having general anaesthetic, they'll also tell you how long you should avoid eating and drinking beforehand.
  • After surgery on your foot icon plus

    You should be able to go home on the day, but please arrange for someone to collect you. You'll have a bandage around your foot so you won't be able to drive. It's normal for you foot to be swollen for a few weeks after your operation. You should try to elevate it as much as possible. You may be given pain relief to take as directed by your medical team.

    To help you make the best recovery, your consultant will probably recommend that you have a course of physiotherapy. They'll also let you know when you can get back to your usual routine. However, you should take a couple of weeks off work – more if you have a manual job.

Paying for medical treatment

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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