Big Toe Cartilage Replacement as an Arthritis Treatment


Every step is agony when you have pain and swelling in the big toe. It’s very demoralizing to lose the ability to walk comfortably. Many people don’t realize how hard the big toe works, bearing the weight of our body when we stand and maintaining our balance, until it starts to ache and becomes difficult to move. It’s a joint that most people take for granted until it starts to cause problems.

Everyone stubs their big toe occasionally, causing temporary pain and swelling, but when the symptoms do not go away, it is time for an appointment with the orthopedist to see what’s wrong.

Big toe arthritis is one possible diagnosis. The pressure of holding your weight can wear down the big toe joint’s cartilage, leading to painful arthritis and the inability to move the toe. It’s a type of osteoarthritis, so the symptoms worsen over time as the cartilage further degrades.

Big toe arthritis is a relatively common affliction, affecting one in 40 people older than 50. However, for many years, there haven’t been many options to treat it except fusion surgery (which fuses the bones together and eliminates movement in the big toe), pain medication and physical therapy.

But now there’s another surgical option: the Cartiva® synthetic cartilage implant.

How Cartiva® SCI Differs from Other Treatments

Cartiva® SCI replaces damaged cartilage with an implant made of a state-of-the-art synthetic material, which acts just like natural cartilage. The implant reduces pain and preserves big toe motion so patients can continue their normal, active lives after the procedure.

Patients who choose Cartiva® SCI will undergo an outpatient surgical procedure that takes about 35 minutes (approximately 40 percent faster than a fusion surgery) and requires no hospital stay. Recovery from fusion surgery requires wearing a cast and crutches but after Cartiva® SCI, patients just need to wear a postoperative shoe. Weight can even be put on the big toe as soon as the patient feels ready.

A synthetic joint replacement offers several benefits that fusion surgery does not, including:

  •     A joint that continues to move as intended
  •     A big toe that can still move
  •     No limitations in footwear choices
  •     A less restrictive recovery and rehabilitation process
  •     93% patient satisfaction

Effectiveness of Cartiva®

Based on trials and research studies, patients felt significantly less pain as quickly as two weeks after surgery and remarkably more foot and ankle function three months later.

The relief is long-term for patients who reported feeling:

  •     93% less pain two years after the procedure.
  •     97% less pain and 176% more foot function nearly six years after the procedure.

Am I A Good Candidate For Big Toe Cartilage Replacement?

Cartiva® SCI is a great option for patients dealing with painful degenerative or post-traumatic big toe arthritis who already have good alignment and movement of the big toe. It is a long-term treatment solution for those who want improved function and significantly less pain. The earlier big toe arthritis is diagnosed by an orthopedist and treated by Cartiva® SCI, the better it is for the patient.

An appointment with the orthopedist will be needed to determine if a synthetic joint replacement procedure is right for you. The doctor can help you evaluate your best options for big toe arthritis treatment and see if you are a good candidate for Cartiva® SCI.