Cartiva® SCI, the Newest Alternative in Treating Big Toe Arthritis


Perhaps you thought you just strained or stubbed your toe and the pain and swelling would go away. But as it persists, you suspect it’s something more. A trip to the orthopedics office confirms your fears: you have arthritis in your toe joint.

Your doctor explains that the cartilage on the ends of your toe’s bones has worn down and is no longer letting them slide against each other comfortably. That pain and stiffness you’re experiencing is friction in the joint. No wonder it hurts! And worst of all, there’s no cure.

Arthritis in your big toe doesn’t sound like a big deal, but you soon realize how debilitating it can be. The pain and stiffness in your toe can make it difficult to walk comfortably, which prevents you from enjoying your daily activities.

You talk to your doctor about your options. They discuss pain medication, physical therapy, and surgery. One surgical treatment involves something you’ve never heard of before: Cartiva®. Could this be a good option for you?

What is the Cartiva® SCI?

When the cartilage in your big toe no longer aids comfortable movement, the Cartiva® synthetic cartilage implant can. The implant is made of a soft plastic-like substance and saline that can be molded into a solid but slippery implant. The unique qualities of the implant allow it to act as the missing cartilage in your toe and aid mobility.

What is a synthetic joint replacement?

The Cartiva® SCI is a synthetic joint replacement, which is exactly what it sounds like. The joint between your toe bones has worn down and no longer functions properly. Just like when a part of your car no longer works, you can get a replacement for your failing joint.

In this case, the new joint is man-made, as it would be difficult to take real cartilage from somewhere else to replace the cartilage you’re missing. The synthetic joint replacement will also be tougher than natural cartilage and last longer.

A synthetic joint replacement like the Cartiva® SCI is placed with a simple outpatient surgical procedure. Your surgeon will make a small cut in the top of your toe and remove a minor amount of bone to make room for the implant. Then the implant is placed in the joint. It is designed to not require any kind of adhesive. Finally, your surgeon will suture closed the cut and dress your toe. It’s that easy!

What type of arthritis does the Cartiva® implant help?

The Cartiva® SCI is ideal for treating painful arthritis of the big toe, otherwise known as osteoarthritis. Your doctor can explain why osteoarthritis happens and what you can do to slow or prevent it from occurring in other joints. But once you have osteoarthritis, it will not go away but can only be managed. The Cartiva® implant is a great way to manage osteoarthritis in the toe long-term.

Cartiva® results

The great thing about Cartiva® SCI is that it requires no casts or crutches and patients can typically bear weight immediately after receiving the implant. By following the doctor’s orders for recovery and physical therapy, some patients have felt less pain two weeks after surgery and noticed improved foot and ankle function after 3 months. Additionally, Cartiva® SCI provided long-term relief and increased foot mobility, with 97% reduction in pain at almost six years after the procedure.

The Cartiva® SCI is designed to be a long-term solution to osteoarthritis in the big toe. Studies show that it was still working for the majority of patients after two years, and those who had it removed before then were experiencing unrelated complications. While ideally it will last a lifetime, synthetic joint replacements are estimated to last 10-15 years.

A synthetic joint replacement like the new Cartiva SCI is just one option for treating osteoarthritis pain. If you suspect arthritis is inhibiting your mobility, make an appointment with Dr. David Garras today.