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Cheilectomy Procedure

February 18, 2019

Foot pain as a person walks
At Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin, we are able to address joint problems in different parts of the body. Whether we're treating the joints of the hands and wrists or performing state-of-the-art foot and ankle surgery, our specialists will always strive to relive pain and restore mobility.

For people who experience stiffness related to arthritis of the toes, our Austin, TX orthopedic surgeons may recommend a cheilectomy. Let's take a moment to cover the basics of the procedure and why it may be the right treatment for you. First, let's discuss osteoarthritis of the big toe.

About Arthritis of the Big Toe (Hallux Rigidus)

Each year, most people walk around 2 million steps. Given the weight and stress placed on the feet, it should come as no surprise that it can take its toll on the toes. The big toe provides a lot of balance and leverage, and over time the wear can lead to arthritis. When the big toe is affected by osteoarthritis, this is known as hallux rigidus.

In moderate stages of arthritis, the wearing down of the cartilage leads to the formation of bone spurs. Bone spurs that form in the joints of the big toe can lead to pain, stiffness, and issues while walking, running, and generally getting around.

What Is a Cheilectomy?

A cheilectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the bone spurs around the big toe and its joints. This helps improve the toe's ability to move and alleviates pain and stiffness of the toe in the process.

Good Candidates for Cheilectomy

Good candidates for cheilectomy are people who suffer from moderate or more severe stages of arthritis affecting their big toe. They should be in good overall health and understand the risks and benefits associated with the surgical procedure. This includes knowing about the recovery process and what it entails.

What Happens During a Cheilectomy?

In most cases, a cheilectomy is performed as an outpatient procedure using only local anesthetic. The procedure usually only takes an hour.

During the cheilectomy, a surgeon makes an incision over the joint of the big toe. The incision is typically around 5cm to 7cm in length. Working through this incision, a surgeon is able to shave the bone spurs off of the toe joint. To prevent reappearance of bone spurs, surgeons may place surgical bone wax on the raw surfaces of the bones. The incisions are sutured shut and the toe is dressed with a bandage.

Recovery from Cheilectomy

Recovery from a cheilectomy is generally straightforward. Patients will be able to move around, but are encouraged to remain off their feet until their surgeon advises them otherwise. The operated toe should be kept elevated to help prevent excessive swelling. Soreness and discomfort can be addressed through the use of anti-inflammatory pain relievers.

Follow-up visits with an orthopedic surgeon will ensure proper recovery. Patients are advised to contact their surgeon if any urgent questions or concerns arise.

The Results of Cheilectomy

Following a cheilectomy, patients will experienced reduced pain and discomfort. Their ability to walk and move their big toe will be greatly improved. Since the procedure is pretty straightforward, there is little risk of complications.

Learn More About Cheilectomy

For more information about cheilectomy and other treatments for arthritis and problems affecting your feet or toes, be sure to contact our team of orthopedic specialists and joint pain specialists. The team at Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin is here to help. You can reach our team by phone at (512) 476-2830.