What Happens?

The rehabilitation that you require depends on the operation that you have had, and how severe the arthritis is. If you have had the joint shaved , or had a camera examination, or had a joint replacement, then you will have a flat postoperative shoe and you will need to perform exercises immediately. If you have the big toe joint fused, then you will have a wedged heel postoperative shoe, and will not need to perform any exercises.


You will have had injections to numb your foot so that you are not in pain after the operation. This injection will wear off after 18-24 hours, so you must take regular painkillers so that you are not in severe pain when the injection wears off. Ibuprofen and Diclofenac should not be used for more than a few days after the operation as they can interfere with bone healing.

The pain will settle over a few weeks. You may see blood stains on the dressings. This is normal and not a cause for alarm. If blood is dripping from the dressings however, return to hospital.


The foot will be swollen as well as sore. You should keep the foot elevated as much as possible for the first two weeks. Keep walking down to a minimum - going to the toilet or for meals. Letting the leg hang down will cause the foot to become more swollen. Most of the swelling will settle within the first few months, but swelling can continue for up to one year.

If you are resting on your sofa, keep your foot elevated on the back rest or arm rest. If you are resting in bed, then place a few pillows under the foot to keep it elevated.


You have been given a special shoe that does not allow you to put weight on the front of the foot. This is because the re-set bone is held together by two screws, and putting weight on it can dislodge the screws holding the bone. You should wear this continuously for the first two weeks, including in bed. After that, you should wear it whenever you are walking, even at home. Crutches are for balance only.


Immediately after joint shaving and joint replacement surgery, you should be performing the exercises shown to the left to prevent any joint stiffness.  You should hold the toe firmly and bend the toe up as far as possible and then down as far as possible. Repeat this exercise ten times, four times every day.

No exercises should be performed on a joint that has been fused, as this may stop the bones from fusing together.

After two weeks, you will be seen in the clinic and the stitches will be removed.


If you have had a fusion, you will be wearing the special shoe for six weeks, and we will then take an xray. If you have had a joint shaving or replacement, then you can wear flexible soled shoes such as training shoes as soon as the stitches have been removed. I advise that you do not return to work before this, especially if you are on your feet all day at work. Most people can drive after 8 weeks. Remember that not everyone is the same, and some people take a longer time to recover from their surgery. Please request a sick note before you leave hospital, if you need one.

postoperative shoe for

big toe joint fusion

postoperative shoe for cheilectomy and joint replacement

about this conditionBig_Toe_Arthritis.html
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operation involvesBig_Toe_Arthritis_Surgery.html
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