New Treatment for Arthritis of the Big Toe Joint

Great toe arthritis, or arthritis of the first metatarsophalangeal joint (the joint at the base of the big toe), is one of the most common problems seen in podiatry and can be significantly painful with walking, running and exercising, and can even make it difficult to wear shoes comfortably. Hallux Rigidus, or Hallux Limitus, which literally means “limited range of motion of the big toe joint”, is a very common condition, and is usually caused by degenerative arthritis.


Conservative treatment for big toe joint arthritis is often effective, including treatment with orthotics, appropriate shoes, injections into the joint, and anti-inflammatory medications. If these treatments failed to improve the condition, surgical procedures are indicated.  Traditionally, surgical options involved removing arthritic spurs in the joint, fusing the joint to eliminate the painful arthritic joint altogether, or the implantation of a new joint, similar to a total knee.

Cartiva, a new small joint implant, was recently approved for use in the first metatarsophalangeal joint.  Cartiva is a small implant, meant to act like synthetic cartilage. The implant is designed and intended to restore the appropriate joint space of the big toe and allow for a potentially greater range of motion.

In studies regarding the effectiveness of the implant, 93% of patients had a reduction in pain, 50% had improved range of motion, and most patients had a significant improvement in their function over a 2-year post-operative period. Other benefits over traditional procedures include shorter operating room time and faster recovery for the patient.

The implant functions like natural cartilage and patient satisfaction has been equal or in some studies, higher than with fusion of the big toe joint.  Patients do not need to be put in a cast after the procedure and most patients can remain fully weight-bearing right after surgery.

If you have arthritis in your big toe joint, call the Foot and Ankle experts at Kansas City Foot and Ankle today at (816) 943-1111.  We will thoroughly evaluate your condition and discuss all available treatment options.   If conservative, non-surgical therapy fails to keep you comfortable, Cartiva may be an option for you!