Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lleyton Hewitt Has Toe Surgery

Australian tennis star Lleyton Hewitt had surgery on his toe the end of last month. Hewitt had a procedure called a toe fusion, where bone spurs are removed and two screws and a metal plate permanently fuse the toe in place.
This is a problem Hewitt has been struggling with for some time. The toe had arthritis and was deformed after years of playing tennis. The surgery will allow Hewitt to play pain-free and return him to his former tennis glory.
The particular fusion he had was on his big toe joint, also known as the metatarsalphalangeal joint. This is the joint that when it becomes severely deformed, the change is called Hallux Rigidus.
Big toe fusion is a long established and very effective treatment for advanced arthritis in the big toe. However, a big toe fusion should only be considered after more conservative treatments have been tried or the condition is considered too advanced for other options.
Fusion does result in stiffness within the big toe joint and limits shoe choice to some extent. Therefore it is only considered if arthritis is advanced and has caused extensive damage to the joint. Big toe fusion is also undertaken for some bunions and if the big toe is floppy, weak or painful, usually as a result of previous surgery.
The stiffness in the big toe joint can change the way you walk, but most people find that this does not cause any  problems and are able to resume their daily activities. You will not be able to wear a heel or more than one inch  after big toe fusion surgery. Some people require orthotic devices or shoes with a special rocker bottom to help push the foot forward.
For most, accommodating these changes is worthwhile as the main goal is to eradicate pain. However it is important to consider these factors when considering toe fusion surgery.
An incision is made along the side of the toe and the worn surfaces of the joint are cut away. The two bones which make up the joint are fixed together using screws. During the next four to six weeks the joint will knit or fuse into a single, painless structure.
You will normally spend one night in the hospital, but many patients return home the same day. Your joint will feel quite sore and swollen immediately afterwards, although painkillers can relieve the discomfort and this will settle down.
You cannot bear any weight during the first two weeks following surgery and the bones are fusing together. Your foot will be placed in a bandage and you will wear special shoes which prevent you from placing any weight on the front of your foot. You will continue to wear the shoes as you start to walk, two weeks after surgery. After six weeks you will be able to wear everyday footwear again.
If you are a tennis player who has a foot injury injury, call our Newington, Kensington, or Middletown office to make an appointment.
Craig M. Kaufman, DPM
Connecticut Foot Care Centers
Sports Podiatrist in CT
Podiatrist in Newington, Kensington, and Middletown, CT
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