This surgical procedure removes bony growths to relieve symptoms of hallux rigidus and osteoarthritis.

What You Need to Know About Cheilectomy

What is a Cheilectomy?

A cheilectomy is a surgical procedure that corrects mild to moderate damage from osteoarthritis in the big toe. As osteoarthritis develops in the foot, it can cause a condition called hallux rigidus. Hallux rigidus derives from the growth of bone spurs that make it painful to bend your toe due to extreme stiffness.

During the procedure, a surgeon detaches excess bone from the main joint in your big toe. After the procedure you will have improved joint movement and an increased level of comfort.

Cheilectomy is an effective treatment for arthritis, especially for patients with less severe arthritis. However, it will not be recommended by your physician unless all nonsurgical treatment is ineffective in treating your symptoms.

Book an appointment with one of our foot and ankle physicians today to learn more.

Why is a Cheilectomy Procedure Performed?

Many people with hallux rigidus complain of stiffness and irritation in their big toe. This sensation is caused by a bone spur forming over the main joint of the big toe. This causes a painful bump to form that is aggravated by wearing shoes.

During the procedure your surgeon will remove the bone spur and 30-40% of the bone. Removal will alleviate pain and provide more space for your toe's range of motion.

Cheilectomy is a surgery to provide pain relief from hallux rigidus. It will only be recommended if other less intensive pain relief options have failed such as shoe modification/insoles, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids injections.

How to Prepare for Cheilectomy Surgery

Generally, preparation will follow these steps, but your physician will give you instructions on how you should prepare for surgery. Before any treatment is administered, you will need to be cleared by a doctor. This step will require diagnostic screening tests like blood work, x-rays, or electrocardiograms. These tests will help determine if your health is robust enough to recover from cheilectomy.

You need to advocate for your needs and tell your doctor about what medications you're currently taking. If you are taking over the counter medications like Advil and Aleve, you will need to stop these before your surgery. Finally, make arrangements to have someone drive you home following your procedure.

What Happens During a Cheilectomy Procedure?

Your surgeon will begin by making a small incision on top of your big toe. They will use this incision to remove the excess bone and clear debris like damaged cartilage and bone fragments.

Once they have finished trimming the bone, they have completed the surgery. They will close the incision and bandage your toe and foot. Then you will be placed in an observation room while you wake up from the anesthesia.

Are There Risks Associated with Cheilectomy Surgery?

Every procedure contains a certain amount of risk. Like any surgical procedure, it is important you are in prime physical health because that can affect your surgery. That said, complications from cheilectomy tend to be uncommon.

Possible complications from cheilectomy include:

  • Blood clots

  • Scarring

  • Infection

  • Bleeding

  • Inconclusive results

After your treatment you are at a higher risk of developing a blood clot. While these are few and far between, contact your doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Redness

  • Calf swelling

  • Firm feeling calf or thigh

  • Increased pain in your calf or thigh

As with any procedure, there's always the risk that your cheilectomy won't relieve your symptoms.

Post Cheilectomy Surgery and Recovery

You will be able to put weight on the leg soon after surgery. Ensure that you keep your bandages clean and sterile. This will help your wound heal and avoid risk of infection. Your doctor may recommend that you use crutches of a cane for a few days following surgery. If you are able, it is a good idea to take time off work while you heal. You may experience throbbing pain your first few days of surgery, but it should disappear as you recover.

As the wound heals, you will need to engage in simple physical therapy exercises. These will promote healing and help prevent stiffness. Do not drive or operate a vehicle until at least 2-4 weeks after your surgery.

Symptoms from osteoarthritis begin to resolve within a month of the procedure. The wound will be sensitive for several weeks, so ease back into high-impact activities.

Visit a Resurgens foot and ankle doctor today to learn more about cheilectomy.

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