Manhattan Foot Specialists
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Updated on Jan 25, 2022 by Dr. Mohammad Rimawi (Podiatrist) of Manhattan Foot Specialists

Cheilectomy (BIG TOE ARTHRITIS Surgery)

big toe jointA Cheilectomy is a procedure to surgically remove painful bone spurs. Bone spurs can be the result of arthritis or the pulling of a tendon or ligament, causing the reactive bone to form. Bone spurs can sometimes cause painful lesions on your skin which can be especially irritating when wearing certain types of shoes. Less commonly, a bone spur can result after a fracture from the bone healing in a displaced position.

The big-toe joint is the most common location a cheilectomy is done, and it is generally performed to increase motion at that joint or to remove a painful bony prominence and/or bunion. All symptoms should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by your podiatrist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to exclude any underlying serious condition.

Why You May Need Cheilectomy

It is common for bone spurs to occur around your big toe joint and begin to hinder motion and cause pain. Good range of motion is very important at this joint and imperative to normal gait. Your podiatrist in NYC can remove the bone spurs around the big toe providing relief of pain and return of normal movement at this joint. Your foot doctor will ensure to leave the bone smooth to prevent any later shoe irritation at the site. If deficits in the cartilage are found, then your foot doctor in New York may drill small holes in the joint to allow new cartilage to form.

All symptoms, potential procedural/surgical options should always be discussed with your podiatrist of New York podiatry after a thorough consultation and examination for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

The Surgical Procedure

If you have a painful bone or toe spur condition and have been unsuccessful with conservative treatment, a cheilectomy may be a good option for you.  A cheilectomy, performed by your New York foot doctor, is a procedure where the extra bone growth is removed. At Manhattan foot specialists, the cosmetic and functional result is always of high priority.  Your NYC podiatrist, Our Podiatrists will keep the cosmetic result in mind during each procedure. Your foot specialist can perform the procedure using cosmetic principles to leave minimal scarring. A sterile bandage is applied after surgery to protect the area during healing.

This procedure is performed at a surgical center. Typically, you receive local anesthesia with IV sedation administered by an anesthesiologist for this outpatient procedure. You typically return home to recuperate following the procedure unless you have an adverse reaction to the anesthesia. Your New York Podiatric doctor and staff will make sure you have the best care and that your recovery is comfortable.

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Potential Complications after Cheilectomy

Complications are rare but can occur. Possible complications include:

  • Nerve irritation: Irritation to your big toe nerves may occur as a result of this procedure, resulting in partially numb regions of your big toe. Most of these nerve issues resolve in a couple of months.
  • Infection: Tenderness, redness, and increased pain after surgery is all indicators of infection. If you experience any of these, see your podiatric doctor or visit the emergency room immediately. Usually, infection at the surface of the wound can be treated with antibiotics. For deeper infections, your podiatrist in New York City may recommend intravenous antibiotics. Be sure to notify your foot doctor if the dressing became soiled, wet or if it was exposed to any contaminants.
  • Blood clots: Every surgery carries the risk of developing blood clots. Bone spur removal is no different. However, the risk of developing blood clots is lower in a cheilectomy, as this procedure has a shorter healing time than most surgeries. Therefore, you can return to activity sooner, and your circulation will be improved, resulting in fewer blood clots. Notify your New York City foot doctor if you’ve had blood clots in the past or if you’re at risk for blood clots now. As a precaution, your podiatrist may prescribe blood-thinning medications, which you may have to take for a few weeks after your surgery.
  • Arthritis progression: Arthritis may develop more quickly if there was a lot of wear and tear on your big toe joint. Cheilectomy doesn’t reverse the underlying causes of arthritis; therefore, it’s may recur over time. If arthritis symptoms recur, the next step may be to fuse your big toe or consider a replacement of the first MTP joint.
  • Problems with healing: In most cases, your wound heals without any problems. If you have conditions such as inflammatory arthritis, diabetes, or poor blood pressure, for example, you may receive special instructions on wound care after your surgery. If you’re a smoker, that may interfere with proper wound healing. Follow all recommendations from your foot doctor with regard to smoking. You may have to stop smoking completely until your foot is totally healed.
  • Too much too soon:If you have a physically active lifestyle, beware of returning to strenuous activities too soon, as it can adversely impact the healing time of your wound. Also, returning to normal footwear too soon after surgery may result in irritating your wound, even after the stitches have been removed and the wound appears fully healed. Ask your NYC podiatrist for guidance.

Recovery from Bone Spur Surgery

Most podiatrists and foot doctors will allow you to return to full activity soon after your procedure since this procedure does not typically destabilize any bone.  After a cheilectomy,  you are able to walk immediately after surgery in a surgical shoe. It may be recommended to use a cane or crutches after surgery to help with stability during the healing process.

Your podiatrist provides at-home instructions on proper surgical care. For example, keep your foot raised to reduce swelling. Expect to take a few days off of work or school after surgery to give your foot the proper rest it needs.

Your doctor removes your stitches about two weeks after the surgery when your incision has healed. Your podiatry doctor often recommends a physical therapist to provide you with range-of-motion exercises. One is gently lifting your big toe up and down on a regular basis to prevent it from stiffening. Your podiatrist in Manhattan may advise you to start walking regularly to promote the range of motion, or you may be instructed to walk on your heel to avoid putting pressure on the affected toe.

Typically, you return to your normal lifestyle within about a month, although playing sports and wearing heels may take longer depending on the procedure. You can potentially have swelling and residual pain for up to 3-6 months after your surgery. Ask your podiatrist in NYC for opinions and instructions on whether this procedure would benefit you.

Do you have any questions about the cheilectomy procedure in NYC? Would like to schedule an appointment with one of the best podiatrist in NYC at Manhattan Foot Specialists? Please contact our office for a consultation.

Dr. Mohammad Rimawi has either authored or reviewed and approved this content. New York City Locations Manhattan Foot Specialists (Upper East Side) 983 Park Ave, Ste 1D14, New York, NY 10028
(212) 389-1886
Manhattan Foot Specialists (Midtown) 51 East 25th Street, Ste 451, NY 10010
(212) 389-9918
Manhattan Foot Specialists (Union Square) 55 W 17th St Ste 106, NY 10011
(212) 378-9991