It’s not uncommon for people who have undergone a toe fusion, also referred to as arthrodesis, to continue experiencing pain and minimal range of motion (ROM) following their recovery. As a result of this, we often receive questions from patients who are unhappy with the result of their Toe Fusion. Even so, many people did not appreciate that they would lose the majority of their ROM following a fusion and are now looking for alternative solutions. So, the question is, “Can my toe be unfused?”
In some cases, the answer is yes! But it will ultimately depend on the condition and bone quality of your big toe. A surgeon with experience performing this procedure should evaluate your joint and determine if an unfusion is the right solution for you.
For those unfamiliar with the procedure, a toe fusion is often considered the golden standard for those suffering with advanced hallux rigidus (arthritis of the big toe)1. The procedure utilizes a metal plate to fuse together the toe joint which in turn eliminates most of the movement in the big toe but also stabilizes the joint and is known to reduce pain. With a fusion, the arthritic bone is removed while the phalangeal and metatarsal bones are cut and shaped to fit together to relieve toe pain. The two bones are then aligned, set at a predetermined angle and fixed with either screws and/or a plate, resulting in the bones purposely fusing together.
Unlike a fusion procedure, the ToeMotion System removes the arthritic portion of bone in your 1st MTP joint (big toe) while allowing you to maintain range of motion. Our ToeMotion Total Toe Implant systems consists of two separate components, one which is implanted on the metatarsal side of the joint and one on the opposing (phalangeal) side of the toe joint. The procedure can also be performed as a hemiarthroplasty, meaning only the metatarsal side of the joint is replaced with the implant rather than both sides. These procedures allow the joint to move more naturally while removing minimal bone and allows the patient to maintain stability and lift-off for walking.
The Unfusion Procedure
Many patients who have received a toe fusion did not realize how debilitating it can be. To improve patient’s quality of life, some surgeons have performed an “unfusion” procedure where they remove the fusion plate, separate the fused bones, then prepare the joint surfaces to implant a ToeMotion. Following this procedure, patients can expect to bend their toe again and regain a more natural movement. Additionally, patients have reported pain-free results with great range of motion and most importantly, they are able to return to their active lifestyles. Kathy shares her experience with an unfusion that was converted to a ToeMotion Implant here.
For more information regarding our toe implant systems, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or begin searching for a surgeon in your area using our Find a Dr. Tool. Take the first step in staying active today!
- Lam, A., Chan, J. J., Surace, M. F., & Vulcano, E. (2017). Hallux rigidus: How do I approach it?. World journal of orthopedics, 8(5), 364–371. https://doi.org/10.5312/wjo.v8.i5.364