Cartiva: Toe joint replacement

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – For people with severe arthritis in their toe joints, surgery has been one of the only options to relieve chronic pain. Fusion is a last resort. Surgeons now have a new option to relieve pain and keep patients on their feet.

Logan Snyder was a standout high school athlete, racking up awards and landing a college softball scholarship. However, pain in her toes became unbearable.

Snyder told Ivanhoe, “Anytime that I would put weight on my toes, when they would bend back is when it would hurt, which is pretty much constantly.”

Doctors performed multiple surgeries to relieve pressure from what’s called Hallux Rigidis, a rigid big toe.

Victor Prisk, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said, “We see it a lot in people who are on the front of their toes, whether it’s dance, whether it’s gymnastics, whether it’s running.”

Dr. Prisk knew that fusing the joint would eliminate the pain, but would also limit motion. Instead he recommended a newly-approved flexible toe joint implant called Cartiva.

Dr. Prisk detailed, “It’s made up of a material called polyvinyl alcohol. It’s very similar to the material that would be used to make contact lenses.”

Doctors open up the top of the toe exposing the head of the joint, then they insert the implant.

Dr. Prisk told Ivanhoe, “It almost acts like a bumper in your joint. Just like your cartilage would.”

Snyder felt the difference as soon as she started moving her big toe.

Snyder said, “The change is that I can feel how far back it can get. It’s crazy compared to other surgeries.”

Last year pain forced Snyder to quit softball. Now she’s working to get back in shape without pain.

“That’s what I’m aiming for, and I really hope to get there,” said Snyder.

The FDA approved Cartiva last July.  Dr. Prisk said it’s recommended for patients who do not have gout, and don’t have severe toe deformities.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.