Overcoming Toe Pain: Q&A with Yoga Instructor and Arthrosurface ToeMotion Patient, Ruth Sanders

We recently caught up with Ruth Sanders, a yoga instructor in her 60’s living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She teaches yoga at Yoga Journey Studio in Boca Raton, Florida. You may remember her patient testimonial from a few years back where after years of agonizing toe pain, Ruth received the Arthrosurface ToeMotion® implant that changed her life. It has now been over five years since her surgery, and we thought it would be a great time to get an update on how she’s doing. She shared everything from yoga poses that can help relieve stress during quarantine to her personal experience undergoing joint preservation surgery. Read on to see what she had to say.

Along with the Q & A below, Ruth shared a quick 1 min demo on how the Arthrosurface ToeMotion® implant has improved her yoga practice. Check it out:

Watch Ruth's Video

Q1: The COVID-19 global pandemic is shaking up every facet of our daily lives – personally and professionally. How has yoga helped you cope with the stress?

A: Yoga is a huge part of my life. It allows me to quiet my mind and let my thoughts take shape. I need that for stress relief on a regular basis, but the added anxiety of these uncertain times has made it even more important. I rarely miss a session these days, and typically perform a physical practice first then meditate.
Yin yoga is a wonderful practice for any level. It’s slow and beneficial for releasing tension all over the body, including the neck, shoulders, and spine.

Q2: Glad to hear you are still practicing! Tell us your story. What was your journey to the Arthrosurface ToeMotion® implant like?

A: I’ve been practicing yoga for 25 years and was working as an instructor for about 5-6 years before I started experiencing pain in my right foot/toe. It made everyday life hard because just walking hurt,
never mind yoga poses in general. As a teacher I was able to figure out how I could modify poses to stay
in practice, but it was difficult. I suffered for nearly five years.
Finally, I saw a doctor to understand my options. He said that could perform a surgery in which he stabilized the injured joint with a screw. I decided to give it a try. After that surgery, I felt good for a while but about a year later the pain returned. I went back to the same doctor who at that point suggested a toe fusion, but that would mean significantly limited movement in my foot. Not ideal for a yogi like me. He said there was nothing else he could do but he knew of a doctor at Baptist Hospital in Miami who was doing a newer type of surgery that could be a better fit. I moved quickly to make an appointment with Dr. San Giovanni, who at the time hadn’t done many of the new ToeMotion® implant procedures, as it had only recently been cleared for use by the FDA in 2014 but, I was determined.
I had the procedure in January 2015. I was happy to finally be doing something about the pain, but I didn’t anticipate the post-surgery pain. Fortunately, it was short-lived and before I knew it, I was able to start putting weight on my foot little by little and walk around. Just six weeks after surgery, I was back to teaching yoga, completely pain-free! I was truly amazed at how quickly I recovered.

Q3. Amazing! How has your life changed since receiving the ToeMotion® implant?

A:My life is nothing like it was before the implant. I’m back to normal again with exceptional range of motion! I practice yoga every day and I can do poses that I wouldn’t have even attempted because of the potential for pain. Even basic poses like the plank, in which you tuck your toes under your body weight, were hard for me to do. Now I am about to do this common yoga transition over and over with no problem.
Before the implant, I couldn’t walk very far or stand on my tiptoes to reach for something on a shelf due to the pain. Going up and down the steps was unbearable, which was a huge problem given that I live in a townhouse. The incredible pain also limited my desire to be active, which was the worst part.
I never think about the surgery or the implant now. It was the best decision I ever made. The ToeMotion® implant helped me get my life back.

Q4. What is your advice to others considering this surgery?

A:Don’t wait! I wish I had done the surgery sooner. I’d also say do your research. My toes would’ve never moved the same way with a toe fusion, so I’m glad I found the ToeMotion® implant and was able to maintain an active lifestyle through yoga. It changed my life in ways that I cannot even put into words. I highly recommend this surgery if you are at a point in your life where you need pain relief because you can’t live the life you want to anymore. It’s transformational.

Learn More

You can view Ruth’s original testimonial for Arthrosurface, here.
For more information on the ToeMotion® implant, visit
You can also find a physician using Arthrosurface implants in your area with our Find the Doctor tool. Don’t see anyone in your area? Contact Us and we will be happy to help!

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