Treatment Options for Osteoarthritis in the Big Toe Joint

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Osteoarthritis is a common joint disease, one that affects nearly 20 million Americans. The condition involves the degeneration of the cartilage surface of a joint. Although it can affect any joint, it is common in the foot, ankle and toes, in particular the big toe.

When the cartilage in a joint wears away, the joint becomes exposed. When a patient with osteoarthritis in their feet or toes moves and walks, the joint grinds against itself, which is extremely painful. Plus, these patients often develop bone spurs on top of the joint, causing additional discomfort.

Osteoarthritis is a progress disease that tends to worsen over time. Treatment ranges from non-invasive options to surgery, and differs depending on each patient’s case.

For patients with osteoarthritis in the big toe joint, treatment options can include shoe inserts and steroid injections. If those don’t work, surgical options are available, including a new procedure called the Cartiva SCI implant.

The Cartiva SCI implant involves the surgeon making an incision on the top of the big toe and removing or cleaning up any bone spurs affecting the joint. Then, the implant is placed and tested – overall, the procedure takes less than an hour.

Recovery from this surgery usually sees patients wearing a boot or brace for a few weeks, followed by stretching exercises and regular shoes when the patient is comfortable. After about six weeks, many patients are in normal shoes and able to resume or increase physical activity.


Kent Biddinger, M.D., is one of the few fellowship-trained foot and ankle orthopedic surgeons in Michigan. In addition to doing ankle joint replacements and treating foot and ankle conditions, he also treats upper and lower extremity injuries and fractures. Dr. Biddinger’s special interests include complex surgical reconstruction and repair of foot and ankle disorders, and he is a nationally recognized expert in the field of surgical nerve decompression for diabetic neuropathy. He performs surgeries at MidMichigan Medical Center – Midland. For more information about Dr. Biddinger, contact his office at (989) 839-8850.

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