Cartiva implant reduces toe pain, improves motion

Surgery to put Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implants in the large joints of my big toes has reduced pain and restored motion and function.

By last October, I was down to exactly three pairs of shoes I could wear – a pair of cork bed sandals, my combat boots, and my hiking shoes. I had cut way back on physical activity — I dropped karate classes, stopped running, and tried my best to keep going to spin class and walking lots — but my feet were still sore and swollen. The bone bumps kept getting larger. Over a few years, I had developed arthritis in my big toes.

About big toe arthritis

In a healthy joint, cartilage provides a smooth surface for bones to move across as you articulate the joint. When cartilage is destroyed by osteoarthritis, bone rubs on bone, causing inflammation. But cartilage is a tissue that does not regenerate, so the body tries to compensate by growing more bone. That excess bone growth causes pain when it presses on shoes and limits the range of motion of the joint.

X-rays confirmed that I had lost a lot of cartilage in the large big toe joints in both feet. My right foot had grown more excess bone, so I suspect that the degeneration started with an injury in karate class a few years earlier, but I may also have a genetic predisposition for developing osteoarthritis.

Hallux rigidus, the technical name for “big toe arthritis,” is the most common foot arthritis condition that affects 1 in 40 people over the age of 50.

Fun fact: the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, the large big toe joint, carries about 119% of your body weight with each step.

Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant

The Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant (SCI) is a medical device, the size of a jelly bean, made from hydrogel material that is compatible with the human body. It was designed to have similar properties to human cartilage: it’s compressible and has a low-friction and durable bearing surface. It comes in two sizes, the 8 mm and the 10 mm. I am the proud owner of two 10mm implants. Here is an animated video showing the procedure:

Cartiva MTP Surgical Technique

What was my other option?

The current standard of care treatment for hallux rigidus is total joint fusion with screws and plates. Fusion is effective for eliminating pain, but it permanently prevents movement of the joint. For me, maintaining mobility was a top priority for physical fitness and long-term health.

What were the clinical study results?

At my consultation appointment, my surgeon advised that they have data showing the device lasts up to 8 years. He expected it would last much longer, but as a new product, they didn’t have data further out. He had performed about 70 procedures at that point and said there were only two cases that he was watching closely that might require revision surgery.

The MOTION clinical study was a 236-patient, multi-centre, prospective, randomized trial that compared Cartiva SCI to total fusion, the standard of care treatment. My surgeon, Timothy Daniels MD, FRCSC was the primary investigator at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, one of 12 sites across Canada and the United Kingdom, and co-author on the published paper.

In the study, patients received either the Cartiva SCI implant or total fusion. The key findings were:

  • Patients in the Cartiva group achieved clinical success of 80% for the composite primary endpoint score for pain, function and safety at 24 months, compared to 79% success for the fusion group. (For my health journalism friends, this was a non-inferiority trial).
  • Patients in the Cartiva group:
    • Achieved a 93% reduction in pain
    • Saw a 168% improvement in ability to perform sporting activities and a 65% improvement in activities of daily living
    • Experienced a 26% improvement in range of motion compared to baseline

If the Cartiva implants didn’t work, I could still have total joint fusion in the future. In the clinical study, less than 10% of the Cartiva implant group needed revision fusion surgery at the two-year mark. Those odds sounded good!

Waiting times!

I asked so many questions at the consultation appointment that my surgeon asked me what I did for a living. After I told him, he suggested that I write about excessive wait times. Here is my timeline:

  • April 2014: Consultation with my family doctor and initial X-rays
  • February 2015: Consultation with orthopedic surgeon
  • October 2o16: Surgery

So all in, from start to finish, it took two and a half years to go from the initial consultation with my family doctor to the surgery date. But wait, there’s more! It would have been even longer if I had not been on the cancellation list. I spoke to my surgeon’s assistant in February 2016 to make sure, and at that point, she was doing call-backs from 2011. I said I would be able to commit to a date on short notice. By October, I got my chance.

Given that I had already waited so long, I agreed right away when the surgeon said I could have both feet repaired in the same operation. It was brave, and a bit tricky getting around the first few days after, but I’m glad I did both feet in one procedure.


It’s been about three months now and my feet are healing nicely. I have regained a lot of motion and the pain and swelling have subsided a lot. My right foot is taking longer than the left, but much more excess bone was removed from that foot. I expect my feet will continue to improve over the next three months. I’m able to return to more activities as the weeks go by — I’m back to my spin class, wearing my spin shoes, and I can tolerate standing while biking for part of the class. I’m looking forward to running again in a few months and doing some stair training with a friend when the summer rolls around.

Here is a video, featuring another patient and Dr. Daniels talking about the procedure.


The Cartiva Synthetic Cartilage Implant is available in Canada. In spite of the long wait time, I’m glad my family physician referred me to Dr. Daniels. In addition to serving as a lead investigator in the MOTION trial, he is head of the Division of Orthopedic Surgery at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

In the United States, the FDA issued premarket approval for the device in July 2016 and the first patient received implants that month.

Disclaimer: Several people have asked me about my recent foot surgery, so I wrote this blog post to share information. If you have pain due to osteoarthritis in your big toes, this procedure might be an option to discuss with your physician. This information is NOT medical advice. Your mileage may vary. 

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50 Responses to Cartiva implant reduces toe pain, improves motion

  1. matthew s roberts August 28, 2017 at 7:25 pm #

    Hello Jane,

    I have enjoyed reading all the responses, my question is how are you doing now? Is the right foot doing better now? I’m 43 and was diagnosed about 5 years ago. Like you I’m also very stubborn and I also have a very high pain tolerance it seems so I’ve been putting this off for too long. I curious to hear of your progress!

    • Jane September 2, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

      Hi Matthew,

      My left foot is very good – no pain or swelling and has lots of range of motion. My right foot is not so happy, but it had more bone removed and now seems to be growing some of the excess bone back. I tried running a couple of months ago and it swelled quite a bit, so I’m walking, biking and swimming now. Not sure if I’ll ever be able to run again. I’ll update in a couple of months after my one-year check up.

  2. Nici Mahlandt August 25, 2017 at 10:26 am #

    I’m a very active 68 and having my surgery in 3 weeks, but have been told that EXERCISE is extremely important after the operation because older folks have less circulation in their feet. I am to keep my foot elevated to the level of my waist for 23 hours a day for the first 7 days, then 40 minutes per hour for the next 7 days to reduce swelling, along with ice 10 minutes of every hour. Following are the recommendations of a well known Ortho surgeon in the UK where the surgery was approved long before Canada and the US, but of course, use your doctor’s recommendations.

    Rehabilitation Exercises – Day 3 Post Operatively (5 times / day)

    Big Toe Joint Exercises: Aim – To restore big toe joint movements

    1. Seated heel raises x 20: Sit with foot flat on floor, knees bent 90⁰ keeping toes on floor, raise heel to the limit of pain and return. Bend your knee more than 90⁰ if you feel comfortable to do so, this will bend the toe more.
    2. Toe lifts x 20: Sit with foot flat on floor, raise toe as far as possible to ceiling and return
    3. Toe bends x 20: Sit with toes resting over the edge of a phone book, bend toes towards the floor
    4. Toe pulls x 20: Pull toe up with hand to pain and hold for 3 seconds, relax
    5. Toe pushes x 20: Push toe down with hand to pain and hold for 3 seconds, relax

    Rehabilitation Exercises – After 1 week Post Operatively (or sooner if you are able) (5 times / day)

    6. Standing both heel raises x 20: Stand close to a wall for balance, raise heels to the limit of toe pain and hold for 3 seconds
    7. Standing single heel raises x 20: Stand close to a wall for balance, stand on one leg, raise heel to the limit of toe pain and hold for 3 seconds
    8. Continue exercise 3, 4 and 5

    Ankle and Calf Exercises: Aim – To maintain muscle tone, strength and mobility

    Ankle and Calf: ankle plantar flexion (tip toe position) and dorsiflexion (bring foot up), strengthening of the peroneal muscles (bring foot out to the side)

    Gait training: Optimise load distribution for the whole foot focusing on weight bearing of the first MTP (big toe) joint and hallux (big toe)

  3. Pam p August 18, 2017 at 8:29 pm #

    Good Jane,

    I’m also considering having this surgery. Have hallux rigidus in both feet. Doctor indicates it looks to be a stage 3 or 4 stage. My left foot was more painful and i had several cortisone injections in that toe. They did help but doctor will not do anymore at this point and recommends surgery. Now my question, is this surgery worth all the pain? Has the arthrites pain gone? Or was it replaced with new pain. Can you walk better and run since the surgery? I love to walk and hike and I hate to make my mobility worse. After reading this blog I’m reconsidering not having the surgery just yet. I know it’s a long recovery but I have not seen one positive review. I wear my Alegria shoes and boots and they have help manage the pain for a little bit as long as I’m not on my feet too… long. I need some positive reviews like yes it made my life better.

    • Jane August 22, 2017 at 3:25 pm #

      Hi Pam,
      My left foot is very good – no pain or swelling and has lots of range of motion. My right foot is not so happy, but it had more bone removed and now seems to be growing some of the excess bone back. I tried running a couple of months ago and my right foot swelled up too much, so I’m walking and biking Not sure if I’ll ever be able to run again. I’ll update in a couple of months after my one-year check up.

  4. Julie McIntosh June 19, 2017 at 8:16 pm #


    Is the Captiva surgery performed here in New Zealand? I’m supposed to be having surgery on both toes but keep putting it off because of the bad reviews I’m getting. The Captiva seems a better option! is this correct?

    • Jane June 20, 2017 at 9:14 am #

      Hi Julie,
      I haven’t heard about Cartiva SCI being available in New Zealand. Check with Cartiva directly – go to and scroll to the bottom of the page to find their contact form about finding a doctor in your area. Cartiva might be a better option for you, but only your orthopedic doctor can make that assessment, taking into account what’s going on with your specific feet.
      Good luck!

  5. Mel June 10, 2017 at 11:41 am #

    Hello, Four and half months since having the cartiva implant. Motion in big toe is worse than before surgery. Painful with every step. I can now wear certain orthotic shoes but the results all around have been poor. Next week I’m undergoing a “Manual Manipulation” procedure to get the toe moving again because PT alone is not really helping. Has anyone had this procedure?

    • Alex August 1, 2017 at 11:54 am #

      Just completed my 2nd Cartiva implant for the right toe on July 26, 2017. Had much more pain than the left which was done on May 19, 2017. The left toe healing well since the surgery. Much movement less and less pain. At this point to soon to make a comment for the right toe

  6. Bonnie Katz June 9, 2017 at 10:18 pm #

    I am 62 and have big toe arthritis in both toes and am looking into cartiva. My surgeon said I can and should do both feet at the same time. He used orthotic shoes, not boots. Am I taking on too much doing both at the same time? Being in the states my dr has done 20 with 2 fails. I am trying to envision going thru all this and then having to do it again in one or maybe both toes. I had a failed chilectomy 6 years ago. The recovery was brutal and it failing was so rough. I am very active so I do not want a bone fusion but then again I’d be done forever! Thoughts? Encouragement?

    • Jane June 20, 2017 at 9:21 am #

      If you do both feet at the same time, like I did, you will need some support at home to manage getting around for the first few days. Based in Canada, I didn’t want to wait another 2 years to go through it all over again. I found the painkillers didn’t work very well and that it was painful to stand on the feet for about 3 days. My surgery was Tuesday and by Saturday I was up walking around, gingerly.
      Good luck with finding the best option that works for you.

    • Diane September 5, 2017 at 5:45 pm #

      Hi Bonnie – Would you mind sharing what you have decided to do?

  7. Christine June 9, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    Hi Jane,

    I am 27 years old, and currently a week post-op from having my cartiva implant and chielectomy. Up until yesterday, I was walking with crutches, and when I went in to see my doc, he said I need to start walking normally on the foot and doing home exercises. Walking is bearable but painful and I don’t have a normal gate, but the home exercises of stretching out the toe are possibly the most painful thing I’ve endured – I can’t get through it without tears streaming down my face from pain/frustration. Do you have any advice to make the process a bit more bearable? Trying to stay positive… I don’t start PT for another week or two and I’m already dreading it…


    • Jane June 20, 2017 at 9:26 am #

      Hi Christine,
      I was only told to wear the clunky orthopedic sandals until the stitches came out and then to switch to regular shoes – except my feet were still so swollen, nothing fit except my 3-strap Birkenstock sandals with the straps on the loosest settings. They were great too because the cork-bed bottom was kind of stiff and gave some support. I didn’t have a normal gait for several months. I was not given home exercises – just told to pull up on the toe to the point where it felt like pressure and wouldn’t go more – not until it hurt. I would just do what I could and over time, the range of motion improved. I hope your PT can give you some good direction soon.
      Take care, Jane

  8. William Viveen June 5, 2017 at 10:49 am #

    Update cartiva surgery 5 1/2 weeks. Not much improvement. Joint is still painfull. Walking in sandals. tried my old rocker sandels but they do not help as much as before.
    Strange bump on metatarsel at the upper end of incision. Almost feels like metatarsel
    is healing from fracture at that point. Doctor appt not intil 12 weeks( June 29)
    I wonder if i walked to much. . 12000 step day third week in boot.
    Disadvantage of using locally famous surgeon is
    that they are to busy to see or coddle you.

    • ljoyce June 14, 2017 at 2:52 pm #

      My surgery was 2/23/17 _ I regret having the surgery. Mobility is very limited and walking is painful to say the least…

  9. Susan Trudeau May 22, 2017 at 2:47 pm #


    Thank you for the encouragement in medical technology of the future! I am in need of surgery on both feet and am seeking out a surgeon in Quebec. Do you know of any in the Montreal area? I have been on a waiting list for a year and a half – my condition is worsening to say the least.

    I actually live in Gatineau – close to Ottawa, but believe the surgeons in Montreal/Qc City area may be using Cartiva.


    • Jane May 22, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

      Hi Susan,
      Glad you found my post helpful! I haven’t heard about a surgeon located in Quebec who is doing the procedure. I suggest you check out the Cartiva website and submit a query through their contact form about locating a surgeon in your area Good luck!

    • Andrea Rowe June 5, 2017 at 2:12 pm #

      There is a doctor in Montreal: Dr. André Perreault, but he runs a private clinic so the cost is very high: $9,660. I have decided to have the procedure done this month. I spoke to someone who had had the surgery with him, and she was very satisfied with the result, although there was still some pain after six months. But I understand it is a gradual healing process. Dr. Perreault’s e-mail is

      • Susan July 11, 2017 at 4:14 pm #

        Hi Andrea,

        I will be having mine with Dr. Sarah Cantin-Langlois, at the end of August. They work out of the same location and are the only Cartiva implant users in Quebec.

        I will be having 3 procedures on each foot. Cheilectomy, ostéonomie de décompression fixé par vis, and the Cartiva implant. However my left foot is progressed close to a 4 out of 4 in severity, so i may have to have a fusion. If she is able to do the implants in both feet I am looking at abill of 12,700.00 before taxes.

        I really hope to hear how things go for you. Best to you !

        • Andrea Rowe July 13, 2017 at 10:52 pm #

          I had the surgery three weeks ago now, and I’m feeling much better, but I have very little flexibility in the big toe. I’m doing the exercises faithfully but I find myself unconsciously walking on the outside of my foot because it’s less painful, and that is causing knee problems. The foot over the arch is still very swollen and I think that’s preventing some of the flexibility as well. I’ll see how it goes, but I am worried that I won’t get the flexibility back that I was hoping to.

          • Jane July 19, 2017 at 6:33 pm #

            Hi Andrea,
            Three weeks is still early days. I walked on the outside of my foot to protect the big toes for a while as well. I found that it took at least three months for the swelling to go down noticeably and was still doing lots like icing and elevating to help it out.


  10. William Viveen May 21, 2017 at 8:10 am #

    Had cartiva surgery April 29 right foot in Grand Rapids Mi. Now after a little over three weeks the toe is still painful. Stitches came out after 15 days. Have hallux rigidus in both toes probably due to a lot of backpacking and genetics. Dr. would not due both feet at once. At this point slightly discouraged and hope i did the right thing. I was getting by with rocker shoes. Foot will not fit into regular shoe yet. Time will tell. Only thing Dr told me was to grap toe and wiggle it up and down periodically.

    • Jane May 22, 2017 at 4:51 pm #

      Hi William,
      Hang in there, recovery to a normal-sized foot does take a while. You are at about a month post-surgery. I found I could get back into regular shoes at about the three-month mark, but your mileage may vary. I also found it helpful to lace my running shoes by intentionally missing the top eyelets and starting lower down, especially on my right foot which is still a bit swollen at the 6-month mark. (Leftie is doing much better, but less excess bone was removed from it). Another trick is to remove insoles to gain a bit of space.

  11. Sandy May 13, 2017 at 8:24 am #

    I found your article during my search for information about Cartiva. I became aware of Cartiva from a tv news report and found only one doctor within a 150 mile distance who performs the procedure (Columbus OH). He has performed only one however. I am wondering why it’s not more widely used here. Your information has been helpful – any words of wisdom in finding a doc qualified for the procedure?

    • Jane May 18, 2017 at 4:33 pm #

      Hi Sandy,
      Cartiva is still pretty new, approved by the FDA last summer. I would recommend contacting the manufacturer to find an orthopedic surgeon in your area. If you scroll to the bottom of this webpage, they have a “find a physician” contact form: Good luck!

    • Carl September 5, 2017 at 11:48 pm #

      I have an appointment soon with the physician in Columbus Ohio to see if I qualify for the surgery. He has operated on my feet before and I trust him. However I can’t say I’m very encouraged after seeing all of these negative reviews. I don’t want to be one of his first patients but no none else in the area does the surgery.

  12. karen skolnik April 24, 2017 at 10:48 pm #

    I had chilectomy and modified arthroplasty in 2015. It is now April 2017 and I am bone on bone, have developed beginnings of spurs again. My doctor said I was a candidate for cartiva and if it failed, fushion would be next best option. Were you bone on bone, stage 3-4 hallux rigidous? I am considering surgery as I am in pain in every shoe. Would like to know more about healing time after this surgery. Thanks, ks

    • Jane April 29, 2017 at 7:55 am #

      Hi Karen,

      I had lost more than half the cartilage and recall that I was stage 3-4 hallux rigidus. So many commenters have asked me about healing time, which is understandable, but it will vary by person. I was walking, gingerly, in the hard-bottom surgical sandals four days later. At two months, I could return to spin classes but stay seated and my right shoe was still pretty tight with a swollen foot, but I’m stubborn. Yes, fusion is possible if the Cartiva option fails. I chose to try Cartiva first for the added mobility and based on the study results that showed faster improvements in pain reduction and return to sports. Note that the study was a non-inferiority trial – so those measures were the same for Cartiva and total fusion at 2 years.

      • karen skolnik July 22, 2017 at 1:02 pm #

        I saw in a article published in Detroit press where Dr. Brewster interviewed that said people that have had previous chilectomy not candidate for Cartiva. Have you heard this? I have had 2 orthopedic surgeons tell me that I am a candidate, and of course if the cartiva failed I would then have the fusion. The goal would be to get me out of pain no promises on mobility, as it is limited to about 20% right now. Have you gradually gotten more mobility back. I know in European studies, increase in mobility was not very high like 26% but sounds like people were out of pain?

        • Jane July 26, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

          Hi Karen,
          I have not heard that a previous cheilectomy disqualifies someone from Cartiva. In my case, I had cheilectomy on both feet and osteotomy on my right foot. Fusion is considered the “gold standard” treatment for hallux rigidus and is the next step if Cartiva implant doesn’t work. Doctors cannot forecast how much mobility or pain reduction each patient will achieve – your mileage may vary depending on a variety of factors and the underlying nature of your particular condition. I did gradually regain mobility, but I am wondering if my right foot is turning into a failed cheilectomy…and will update my comments when I go for my 12-month checkup in October. It still swells and appears that the bump of excess bone is growing back. If so, I may have to choose fusion in the future, but right now I’m liking that it can bend well for walking.

          • karen skolnik August 20, 2017 at 7:12 pm #

            Are you finding the right toe to be painful? Looking forward to hearing what your doctor says when you return in October.

          • Jane August 22, 2017 at 3:22 pm #

            My right foot still swells if I overdo the biking and walking. It may be growing excess bone again, which I’m not happy about! I’ll update in October after my one-year check up.

  13. Bruce perone April 9, 2017 at 10:23 am #

    Hi Jane,
    I’m in the USA and they recently allowed this procedure.
    So I went for it in Late December, so at a little over 3 months I don’t feel as if my motion to bend when I walk is there it seems like it just stops and the pain is awfull under the big toe with every step , I went to PT for about 2 months, my question is will this toe bend more in the future and will the pain subside?
    I’m very active and want to run again

    • Jane April 10, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

      Hi Bruce,
      Everyone heals differently. According to the clinical study, there were large reductions in pain and increases in the range of motion at 3, 6 and 12 months. What does your doctor say? Did you have a lot of excess bone trimmed away as part of the procedure?

    • ramona howard April 30, 2017 at 7:23 am #

      Hi Bruce,
      I’m having the same pain and limited mobility as you’ve described. I had my surgery in late January. I go to PT 2-3 times a week and have made some progress but far from what Jane describes. Question, did your physician put your foot in a surgical boot immediately after surgery or a orthotic shoe immediately after surgery. My doctor believes that may have caused some of the problems. She says they are considering eliminating using the boot.

      • Bruce September 11, 2017 at 6:42 pm #

        Yes they put me in the boot right away and then my PT person after the subscribed time could not move my toe , and I mean he really manhandled it
        It is now 9 months and some days I can barley walk it hurts so much, I’m ready to break down, I like to run and now I’m called a gimper

  14. Rosalyn Yellin April 1, 2017 at 12:19 pm #

    Hi! I had cartiva surgery March 1,2017 and I am still swollen and I have mild pain with each step. I’m wondering if the pain is general surgery inflammation that I am feeling. I have some range of motion in my toe as I do the toe exercise the doctor has me doing. I am back in my sneakers. Did you have any pain while walking at first? I don’t have the pain in Birkenstocks (probably because o the rigid bottom)only in my sneakers. When did the swelling go away in your left foot? My main concern is the swelling as I think it hinders healing. Is your right foot still swollen? Thanks!

    • Jane April 3, 2017 at 8:13 pm #

      Yes, I certainly did have pain while walking at first. It’s hard to remember exactly when the swelling went away in my left foot, but I recall a marked improvement at the 3-month mark. My right foot can still swell if I overdo exercise, but is almost caught up to the left foot at the almost 6-month mark. You’re only 1-month post surgery, so it sounds like things are going fairly well. What does your doctor say? Ice and elevation worked well to help reduce the swelling.

      • Rosalyn Yellin April 12, 2017 at 5:29 pm #

        I go back to the doc at 7 weeks post op. I have mild swelling around the joint and almost none in rest of the foot until I am up and about for a few hours then the entire front of the foot swells. It does go away quickly with ice and elevation. Are you able to raise onto your toes? Like stand tippy toe? My toe bends very well and I am very happy with my range of motion but I can’t put weight on my joint if I am elevated. Is that something you can do now? I am a dance fitness instructor and I would like to be able to do that. Thank you for your blog. I appreciate your response.

        • Jane April 16, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

          Hi Rosalyn, I couldn’t rise up onto my toes at 7 weeks, more like around the three-month mark. But your mileage may vary, depending on how much else they did during your procedure. I had a lot more excess bone removed from my right foot, which can still swell if I over do it (spin class and weights class, or like yesterday when I walked more than 10,000 steps).

  15. Mary-Lea March 31, 2017 at 7:47 pm #

    Hi Jane,

    I really enjoyed your article as it gave me a good feel as to how the procedure works. I am also going to the Centric Health a Centre to see if I am eligible for the surgery. The rep for Cartivia Canada connected me with the Doctor there. It seems the private route is working towards getting more people treated. I tried to get an appointment with Dr Daniels and I can’t get in until next year which is frustrating. Hope that you continue to enjoy the benefits from the surgery!

    • Jane April 3, 2017 at 8:15 pm #

      Good luck with your surgery, Mary-Lea! I imagine Dr. Daniels is quite popular now since the implant was funded by Health Canada. One of my follow up appointments was with a Fellow instead of Dr. Daniels as he was in the UK giving a talk about the device.

    • Edina April 20, 2017 at 10:28 pm #

      If you don’t mind me asking, what is the price range for this procedure at the health centre?

  16. Michelle March 17, 2017 at 11:00 am #

    Hello! I hope recovery is still going well! I’m in my early 30s and am considering this surgery in hopes of being able to run marathons again! Have you been able to try running yet?

    • Jane March 17, 2017 at 11:39 am #

      Hi Michelle,
      My recovery is coming along, even if it has been slower than I was hoping. My left foot is great, but the right foot had much more excess bone removed and has been taking longer for the swelling to subside. At 4.5 months, my doctor said it could take up to a year for all of the inflammation to calm down, since it’s still an arthritic foot, regardless of the implant.

      So…To answer your question – I tried running on a treadmill in December (at two months) for 15 minutes and it felt great, but my right foot swelled up by evening and was pretty sore. Yesterday, I tried a slow trot for 4 km and was able to keep going just fine. I switched to walking when it felt like my feet had had enough, and this morning they are still fine. I have never run a marathon and have no plans to, but you are much younger. I’ll be happy to be able to run a 5K again a few times a week and have switched to spin classes for cardio. If you want to run marathons again, you should speak to your doctor about whether the Cartiva will help you meet that goal, depending on what’s going on inside your foot.

  17. Vera February 18, 2017 at 2:10 pm #

    I did not realize Cartiva was available in the public system. I am thinking of just using Centric Health, as Cartiva, but not fusion, seemed to be available privately in Ontario with, get this, a one month wait time from start to finish (self-refer too). I feel lucky that feet are not considered “medically necessarily” body parts for some reason in Ontario, so we can skip the queues. The cost privately is about the same as my single dental implant, so certainly doable.

    As a medical writer maybe you would have some knowledge as to why some surgeries, like Cartiva, I can pay for privately but others, like a knee or hip joint, I could not. Is it just feet that are setup this way? I also could get private bunion surgery.

    • Jane February 22, 2017 at 9:34 am #

      Hi Vera,
      I did not know Cartiva was available through private clinics for a fee. However, I’m a skeptic and was glad to have the primary investigator for the MOTION trial do my surgery for this new technology, especially after he said he had performed more than 70 operations.

      We have a mixed-bag of public-private health care options in Canada, further confused by the fact that each province makes its own decisions about which procedures and technologies to fund. From what I could find, it’s low-risk surgeries that can be accessed privately. Knee and hip replacements are more involved surgeries than toe implants.

      • Lynn March 16, 2017 at 10:05 pm #

        Hello. I’m planing on getting the surgery in the near future. Can you tell me how long it took to go back to work. I’m able to limit my activity at my job. Can you give me details about your surgical experience. Thanks so much. I’ve been putting surgery off but pain to my right great toe is constant now. Lynn

        • Jane March 17, 2017 at 11:28 am #

          Hi Lynn,
          As a freelance writer, I work in a home office and have a short commute. After having both feet done at the same time, I was pretty wiped out on pain meds for the first few days, but up and about on day five and able to work sitting at my desk or the dining room table, with feet elevated on other chairs and resting when I needed to. I was able to go to my son’s graduation on day nine post-surgery and at that point I was still wearing the surgical sandals over the bandages and gauze wrappings. I had stitches out the day after, on day ten, and then wore other shoes as I could find to fit, such as my cork bed Birkenstocks with the buckles loosened or my husband’s hiking shoes if I went outside (not for pain, but for size due to swollen feet). If you are considering surgery for one foot, you could use crutches for the first few days if your foot was not quite ready for weight-bearing.

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