Why Cartiva is recommended for Big Toe arthritis?
In the normal joints of our bodies there are hard smooth surfaces covering the ends of each bone. These smooth surfaces are made of cartilage and they allow the bones to move smoothly and painlessly against each other. With time or trauma, these smooth surfaces begin to wear down, exposing the rough, pumice stone-like, surfaces of the underlying bones. This is the process behind osteoarthritis. As these rough boney surfaces grind on one another they can cause pain. Additionally, the rough surfaces do not articulate well, leading to stiffness of the joint.
The main site of osteoarthritis in the foot is the 1st MTP joint, where your big toe attaches to the foot. This type of osteoarthritis is called hallux rigidus. As this joint articulates with each step, hallux rigidus can cause a great deal of pain with walking. Additionally, the joint stiffness decreases your ability to generate power from your great toe, such as in running, climbing, or skiing.
Treatment for Hallux Rigidus
Cartiva is a new state-of-the-art treatment option for hallux rigidus. Previously, severe osteoarthritis leading to hallux rigidus was treated with joint fusion. This resulted in permanent immobility in the affected joint. Cartiva is an exciting new process, because it preserves joint mobility. It uses an organic polymer, Cartiva, that is attached to the end of the bone, in place of the worn-away cartilage. Specifically, Cartiva is attached to the head of the first metatarsal, which is the long skinny bone of your foot to which your big toe is attached. Cartiva acts as the smooth surface between the two articulating bones, which regains some of the mobility of the joint. Pain is also reduced, as the rough bony surfaces are no longer grinding against each other.
The procedure is minimally invasive, taking 25-35 minutes, and you will be walking with a surgical boot immediately afterwards. Cartiva is designed to last a lifetime, and unlike some previous treatments, it does not prevent the use of subsequent procedures, such as a fusion, if they are required.
If you have hallux rigidus, a.k.a. big toe arthritis, and are interested in this procedure, please come see us at Orthopedic Specialists of Seattle. Here at OSS we have Dr. Mark Reed, who is a fellowship-trained foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon. He has undergone specialty training on the Cartiva procedure and has incorporated it in his practice.