I just started ballroom dancing a couple of months ago and absolutely love it. However, I have severe arthritis and a lot of pain at the base of my big toe, and will have a fusion of the joint next month. Has anyone had this surgery? How has it affected your dancing, height of heel you can wear, how does it feel after it has healed, etc.?
I've been postponing cheilectomy surgery on both feet (for bone spurs in MTP joint as result of osteoarthritis) for some time because I'm afraid of how it will impact my dancing. My understanding of fusion in the MTP joint is that it removes all flexibility in the big toe joint, meaning your foot will pretty much have to stay flat, wearing heels is not an option, and you can no longer 'rise' onto the ball of your foot. I'm no doc; just read a lot (and take everything with a grain of salt). Have you asked your doc? If it's that important to you, I'd look for a doc who specializes in sports medicine, or even better, treating dancers. And get a second opinion. Try alternative treatments if you can (physical therapy can work miracles). Wish you the best & hope you'll keep us posted on the outcome!
Hi! Your comment motivated me to get a second opinion. I found a doctor who is a gymnast himself and understood my goals. I had a hemi-implant done on May 2 and just had my cast removed today. My work is cut out for me now with exercising the joint. Pain is minimal right now, but the rest of my body is sore from crutching around for 11 days! I will get back to you with an update soon! Thanks for your thoughts!
Hello, I have been dancing silver level smooth ballroom for 4 yrs now and have had a cheilectomy of my left big toe 18 months ago and also have had a right big toe fusion 14yrs ago with the screw removed 18mo ago..I really had no choice in getting either of these surgeries..live with severe pain at times or surgery?..I had a large amount of arthritis in my right great toe due to an old injury where a steel beam fell on my foot..the bump got so big and painful I could barely wear shoes..the pain started when I was in my mid 20's and I had the fusion surgery in my early 30's..I am now in my late 40's..I did dance off and on socially during that time..I do not have pain in the fused toe and can rise to the ball of my foot about 2 inches off floor..I also have heel spurs so I wear orthotics made for my feet when I can fit them inside certain shoes..the negative with fusion surgery I would have to say would be that your balance is more challenged and my 2nd and 3rd toe are starting to shift toward the fused toe and that can cause a little discomfort kind of what hammer toes do.. I have been trying a toe spacer between big toe and 2nd toe and wearing orthotics as much as possible..seems to help.. I didn't start experiencing that hammer toe feel till about 2 yrs ago..I wear sas style mary jane shoes when I dance showcases or compete..they tend to have a smooth sole for dancing and have adjustable buckles and give my fused toe more cushion..You can also find lower heeled shoes and danceshoes online that also come in wide widths.. I also wear an extra wide shoe..not a good problem to have when you are a dancer-hard to find!..THe surgery itself was pretty painful the first 2 days but subsided quickly after I learned to really elevate the surgical foot.. helped more than drugs.. I wore a small foot cast and used crutches for 6 wks..overall fusion surgery takes more of the arthritic pain away because it fuses the joint.. A cheilectomy takes out the bump but not arthritis and can cause swelling for up to a year which it did for me..my right toe is stiffer but i can dance if i wear jobe stockings to help with arthritic swelling , comfy sas shoes, and aleeve.. good luck and let me know if you have any more q's , happy to answer..
Thanks for your reply! I may need more advice from you about shoes when I am ready to start dancing again. I had a hemi-implant done on May 2, and the cast removed today. You are so right about the importance of elevating the foot post-op. That was really the only thing that kept the pain under control for the first couple of days, and the pain meds made me too loopy. My back and legs are sore now from lack of exercise, so I am very motivated to get back on track again! Isn't it something what we will endure for the sake of dancing!! And I am a real beginner at age 59, so I have to get moving! Just took the dog for a walk -- It's slow going, but I can do it! Yay!
Four years ago I had this problem with my left big toe joint. The Doc wanted to fuse or replace the joint. I said no to both and had him clean out the joint ie: chip, chisel, scrape etc. instead. He said I'd be back in 3 years for a more permanent fix but so far so good. It's a minor irritant but it bends enough and there is almost no pain. I chose the least permanent/ invasive fix as I feared permanent loss of flexibility....and would do it again.
I am so glad I decided against the fusion and found a doctor who did a hemi-implant that has been in use successfully for 50 years. We can always fuse as a last resort, but I am so grateful that I won't be losing the flexibility. I had the surgery on May 2 and the cast removed today -- and I am walking in my regular walking NIkes this afternoon! I am hopeful that it will heal well and I'll be dancing again in a few months! Thanks for your thoughts and good luck! Hopefully you won't need to see your doctor for anything more drastic for a long time.
I had this done 4 years ago due to a bunion between my big and 2nd toes. I hope you have not done this - it has created a gait pattern that has since caused back and neck problems and I can only wear shoes that have a rocker effect to replace the dorsiflexion that I lost. I have a neice who just had a big toe joint replacement. If that had been offered, I would have gone that route.
I have had endless problems after the fusion of my big toe 4 years ago. The main problem is lack of mobility and needing to wear rocker type shoes all the time. If I had known the downside truly I would never have gone ahead as the pain I get trying to wear normal shoes - even totally flat sensible walking shoes are uncomfortable. At the time I was told I would not be able to wear heels above a certain height but that just isn't true - no normal shoes feel right and dancing is painful except in mbt type shoes. I was told by a podiatric surgeon (Steve Kriss) that this could be reversed and I could have joint replacement surgery - am very nervous to have more surgery in case it fails and creates more problems. Also the established orthopaedic surgeon's attitude is extreme scepticism. What have you done so far?
Those of you who have this problem . It is most unfortunate. The joint where your big toe meets the ball of the foot is, and should be, the most used joint within your whole body when dancing. To not use that joint means you are dancing from a flat foot without rolling onto the toe. To dance at a competitive level it is absolutely necessary that the correct technique be used.
All the research I did warned (orthopaedics obviously and podiatrists) that the gold standard for arthritis for anyone active or young is fusion as all implants fail - longest life 10 years and many fail within 2-5 if you are very active. Plus it still causes mechanical issues with the gait and strange compensations the foot does just like with a fusion, so it sounds wonderful but it must be shown to work on active people for many years before you can trust the results. I was horrified with my issue because I went in for a bone spur cleaning and came out with a fusion - because there was "zero cartilage" left - but I, like many on this site, would have chosent to "live with it" - I only agreed to any surgery at all because it was the attempt to clean it up to give more life to the joint. There is no data on "active" yound people who get fusions after 2 years. There is all this information on how they can "run half marathons" which at first gave me hope but I have since had a PT wanr me that any activity will destroy all the other toes and joints in the foot after a fusion - so I am begging for any source of info on these "runners" post fusion after year 10, 15, 25 etd - who cares about year 1-3, you can do anything for a couple years but that proves nothing abut longevity. Does anyone have any 10-30 year post fusion activity stories? Right now I can wear heels, run, raise up on the ball of my foot (8 months post op) BUT I won't do it any longer because of my new fear that over time this is going to cause all the rest of my foot to fall apart.
That is mortifying! I assume you must have (maybe unknowingly) signed something prior to surgery allowing the surgeon to make that call while you were under(?) Otherwise it seems like you might have a legitimate lawsuit against him. I'm glad I read this anyway; *IF* I ever opt to have surgery I will require my surgeon to put in writing that he will NOT fuse my joint under any circumstances. I'm so sorry that happened to you. I still research this issue online occasionally; I have found little information as far as personal accounts of various MTP-related surgeries from athletes, and even less info specific to dancers. Suprising since the problem does not seem uncommon. Will keep looking though.
Does anyone have any experience with an artificial joint for the big toe? That's what my doctor is recommending since I refused the option of fusion. I am under the impression that I'll be able to continue dancing about a month after the implant surgery. If you have an implant, how much mobility do you have in your toe?
A little bit about my toe trouble: There's no cartilage left in the joint. I had hallux rigidus (arthritis of the big toe joint with a bone spur). Seven months ago, I had a cheilectomy and osteotomy, (cleaning out of the joint and shortening of the big toe). But the bone has deteriorated, presumably due to arthritis.
If anyone is going through something similar, I'd be very interested to hear about it. Thanks!
I have this problem, too. I have learned more from this forum than I have from my podiatrist and the internet sites all together! At this point I am just living with it, but the permanent lack of flexibility bothers me more than the occasional pain.