Big Toe Joint Arthritis: Correction via Joint Distraction

Big toe joint arthritis is a common problem that causes a person to feel pain with each step. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the joint deteriorates. The cartilage in the big toe joint acts as a cushion. Without this cushion, parts of the joint grind together, which causes pain and limits motion. To avoid big toe joint fusion or replacement, distraction can be performed. During big toe distraction, an external fixator is applied and the toe joint is gradually stretched apart, which reduces the pressure on the joint. When the pressure is removed from the joint, the cartilage can heal. The patient is allowed to move the big toe joint and can walk on the foot during treatment with the external fixator. This patient has been pain free for more than one year.